In this connection it must also be mentioned that there are few concepts in the social sciences that have been used as inconsistently as that of skill (Vallas, 1990). Variations on this concept include worker skill, job skill, cognitive skill, non-cognitive skill, distributed skill, skill breadth versus skill depth and more. "Skill" is a multidimensional and heterogeneous concept. When social scientists aspire to statisticallyÂ scrutinizeÂ theÂ roleÂ of skills in the relationship between education and work, they need to define, operationalize andÂ gauge such skillsÂ inÂ ways that allow its use for the purpose of testingÂ hypotheses. The first step in this direction is often the categorization of different kinds of skills. Dichotomous schemes are common - general versusÂ particular skills, affective versus cognitive skills, advanced versus basic skills - but more intricate classifications are alsoÂ accessible. Different research questions require different views of skills and determining which of these many classificatoryÂ methods is the greatest one is fundamentally a functionÂ of howÂ well it helps scholars answer these questions (Spenner, 1983); (Diprete, 1988); (Attewell, 1987); (Frenkel, Korczynski, Shire, & Tam, 1999); (Kerckhoff, Raudenbush, & Glennie, 2001).
In this study we consider skill in its most inclusive sense where it would refer to any capacity to get things done. A little more elaboration on this definition should clarify what the author intends to convey through the word 'skill'.
To begin with, 'skill' is not likened to education. Treating one's level of schooling as well as the level of skill as the identicalÂ thing is conventional in labor economics and common among sociologists. Nonetheless, this practice really cannot be justified. Economists Ingram and Neumann argue quite bluntly that "education per se does not measure skills adequately,' (IngramÂ & Neumann, 1999) at the same time as Alan Kerckhoff (sociologist) andÂ his colleagues demonstrated that one's level of skills and schooling are not only determined by different factors, but also lead to different labor market outcomes. (Kerckhoff, Raudenbush, & Glennie, 2001)Â
Perhaps it is best to think of skills as characteristics of individuals, and ofÂ otherÂ timesÂ to as traitsÂ ofÂ workÂ tasks,Â jobs or even groups of workers. As Vallas observed, educational psychologists and human capitalÂ economistsÂ are inclined to view skills asÂ something thatÂ workforces have,Â and at the same time sociologists view skillsÂ as inheringÂ inÂ jobs (Vallas, 1990). A fuller understanding of skills wouldÂ recognize thatÂ theyÂ are embedded in what Stinchcombe has called the 'information processes' of organizations. Stinchcombe's definition of skill deftly shows their multi-layered nature:
"the capacity to routinize most of theÂ activity thatÂ comesÂ to a given work roleÂ in anÂ uncertain environmentÂ (â€¦) skill is aÂ repertoire ofÂ routinesÂ which theÂ workersÂ can do accuratelyÂ and fast,Â asÂ wellÂ as a set ofÂ selectionÂ principles amongÂ routines, such that the complex of routines andÂ selections among themÂ deals with most things that uncertainty brings to theÂ worker. Thus we will expect to find skillÂ whenÂ aÂ great many different things mustÂ be doneÂ to produce theÂ product or serviceÂ butÂ when eachÂ ofÂ those things has to beÂ doneÂ inÂ several different ways depending upon the situation" (Stinchcombe, 1990) end direct quote
This proposes that skills are obtained from explicitÂ workersÂ orÂ groups of workers in specific work settings. Certainly some individuals are more 'skilled' than others, and some jobs demand more form their incumbents than do other jobs.Â
WBL - a diverse, widespread and amorphous phenomenon
The acknowledgment that learning happens inside the workplaceÂ andÂ is necessary for theÂ growthÂ ofÂ workingÂ skills and knowledgeÂ is notÂ new. Nonetheless, lately an awarenessÂ amongÂ researchers, employers,Â and policy makers as to whatÂ is entailed inÂ learningÂ as well asÂ howÂ it might beÂ facilitated insideÂ workplacesÂ has been increased. Additionally,Â at present, thereÂ are numerousÂ areasÂ ofÂ research whereinÂ learning at as well asÂ throughÂ workÂ are aÂ centralÂ concern.Â
WBL frequently referred to, or one and the same with, problem-based, practice-based, out-of-schoolÂ based learning - is so amorphous, diverse, widespread, adaptable and applicable in so many distinct places and situations, for so wide a number of needs and purposes and populations that it is virtually impossible to reach shared understandings, let alone a general framework - it defies characterization.Â
Stern and Sommerlad (1999), dispute that itÂ hasÂ gainedÂ considerable importance because it sits at the intersection of new thinking concerning the nature of learning about novel forms of knowledge, about the changing nature of work and also about the modern business in a global economy. Reeve & Gallacher (1999) assert that in this context, workplace learning:
beginning direct quote"(â€¦ ) is seen as a flexible form ofÂ learningÂ whichÂ enables employees to engage in theÂ regular processesÂ of up-datingÂ and continuing professional development whichÂ haveÂ been increasinglyÂ emphasised. Moreover, insofar as the learning isÂ work-basedÂ it isÂ alsoÂ seen as facilitating formsÂ ofÂ learning,Â and typesÂ of knowledge whichÂ are of particularÂ relevanceÂ toÂ the work in whichÂ the learnersÂ areÂ engagedÂ (pp. 125-6).
Workplace Learning - an elusive concept
The processes of change as described aboveÂ haveÂ alsoÂ meantÂ that 'workplace learning' has itselfÂ acquired aÂ broadÂ variety of different meanings. There is no singular definition orÂ oneÂ unifiedÂ approach to what 'workplace learning' is, whatÂ itÂ shouldÂ be, or who it is/should be for.Â
Boud (1998) argues that, 'workplace learning isÂ a siteÂ ofÂ intersecting interests, contested ideas,
multiple forms of writing and rapidly evolving practice'Â (p.11). This is expounded by Candy andÂ MatthewsÂ (1998),Â whoÂ state how:
"Coming from a range of fields ofÂ studyÂ (adultÂ education, higherÂ education, cultural anthropology, organisational theory,Â innovationÂ studies,Â industrialÂ economics, management studies, vocational education,Â etc.), a variety of theoretical perspectives (behaviourism, interpretivismÂ andÂ criticaltheory),Â different points of view (theÂ manager,Â the learner/worker,Â theÂ development practitioner), variousÂ contextsÂ or environmentsÂ (manufacturing/production-basedÂ industries,Â knowledge- or service-based organisations,Â the public sector,Â universities,Â professionalÂ practice etc.), and using every imaginable methodology (fromÂ surveysÂ andÂ interviews,Â to diaries and participantobservation) they haveÂ generatedÂ a bewilderingÂ array of models"Â (p. 15). End direct quote
This uncommon degree of eclecticism has createdÂ whatÂ SternÂ andÂ Sommerlad (1999) explain as anÂ 'elasticity'Â to theÂ phraseÂ 'workplaceÂ learning', even if they disputeÂ thatÂ diverseÂ understandingsÂ canÂ however still be determined andÂ categorized.Â They propose that this could be founded onÂ theÂ degreeÂ at which 'learning' and 'work'Â areÂ divided,Â whichÂ they dispute could be captured withinÂ three expansive approaches: the workplace as a place forÂ learning; the workplace as a learning environment; in addition, working and learning as inextricably connectedÂ (p. 2). The first approach engages the spatialÂ divisionÂ ofÂ learning from the work, in which learning activities,Â usuallyÂ inÂ the structureÂ of 'in-company training' takesÂ placeÂ 'off-the-Â job' as well as outside of the directÂ workingÂ environment.Â The second approach consists of planned learning andÂ is organized however takes place inside theÂ workingÂ environmentÂ andÂ is largely 'on the job'. The third approach is portrayed byÂ theÂ ideaÂ ofÂ 'continuous learning' and Zuboff's (1988)Â affirmationÂ thatÂ 'learningÂ is theÂ new form of labour'Â (citedÂ in Stern and Sommerlad,Â 1999, p. 2). In this approach, there is a structured workplace toÂ take full advantage ofÂ the processes of learning through which employees are taughtÂ howÂ toÂ become learners andÂ are taught skills associated toÂ theirÂ own occupations and thoseÂ of other workers.Â
Approaches to learning - opposing views
Learning is a enormously complex, vast, multi-dimensional phenomenon, that is both an activity or process and an outcome. It is a ubiquitous and ongoing process that is truly indispensable to human and non-human existence, being almost as important for survival as drinking, eating or breathing. There are numerous forms, models and approaches to learning and because of the central role it plays in all dimensions of life, the it also the object of study - from differing angles - of a wide range of disciplinary fields that span from the natural sciences, too the humanities and social sciences. We will briefly take a closer look at how the process of human learning in formal and informal fashion and settings may lead to significantly distinct outcomes. In the field of education, the long dominantÂ standardÂ paradigm of learning & learning asÂ acquisitionÂ is seriouslyïƒŸMarc? Plz adjust as this in green doesn't make sense to meÂ and increasingly challenged by the emerging paradigm of learning which attributes far greater importance to WBL.
Workplace learning theories in addition to perceptions take place through and centerÂ uponÂ that which Beckett and Hager (2002), and HagerÂ (2004a), referÂ to as two diverse 'paradigms'Â of learning,Â in whichÂ each one has diverse epistemological beliefs and assumptions regardingÂ knowledge and knowing. Formal learning that is found inside educationalÂ institutionsÂ is definedÂ as working throughout a 'standard paradigm of learning' which,Â as well as assuming didacticÂ teaching methods (which position the learner as theÂ relevant 'object' to be 'taught')ïƒŸMarc this in green is unclear, plz adjust from your end, has three distinctive characteristics - focus on mind, interiority and transparency. First of all, 'the basic image for understanding learningÂ is ofÂ an individual mind steadily being stocked withÂ ideas' (Hager, 2004a,Â p. 243). Second of all, mental life is measured as 'interior' toÂ persons, whereÂ learning is consequently perceived toÂ engage 'aÂ change in the contents of anÂ individual mind, i.e. a change in beliefs' (ibid). Third, there is a supposition of aÂ transparencyÂ ofÂ learning,Â in which the notion that if somethingÂ isÂ reallyÂ learned itÂ could be madeÂ explicitÂ (ibid, p. 244). Supporting these three main characteristics isÂ consequently an epistemological assumption and/or belief that knowledge is something that exists independently of the knower butÂ is that which the knower can obtain, own, internalize, and exhibit (Sfard, 1998, p.5).
Hager (2004a) remarks that the customary paradigm of learningÂ assumesÂ abstract propositional, context dependent and transparent knowledge to be the best and mostÂ wantedÂ structure of learning, in which learning that happens outsideÂ of educational institutions is positioned as its inferior 'other'. Thus, 'concrete' skills learning, context dependent learningÂ andÂ also tacit structures of knowledge and learning -Â in otherÂ words, those structures of learning and knowledgeÂ that are typically found within the workplace - are 'consigned to second-rate status' (ibid, p. 244).Â
Emerging paradigm of learningÂ
Individual learning theorists in the workplace who implement various 'socially'Â informedÂ perspectivesÂ as it pertains to learning and/or who are apprehensive with informal learningÂ processes are, conversely, contributing towards what Hager (2004a) terms an 'emerging paradigm of learning'.Â Hager disputes that the paradigm ought to beÂ phrasedÂ asÂ 'emerging' because, 'though a diverse range of critical writings on education can be seenÂ as pointingÂ toÂ this new paradigm, it is stillÂ aÂ long wayÂ from gaining wide recognition and support characteristic of an established paradigm' (ibid, p. 246). The issue of the diversity of writings may also, however, have some additional significance here. For instance, while many commentators might placeÂ themselvesÂ as texting from a 'social' standpointÂ ofÂ learning, this does not mean that it constitutes a unified or near-unified approach. As discussed earlier, work place learning literature encompasses a variety of different disciplinary perspectives and withinÂ these, differentÂ meanings and perceptions of the 'social'Â and relationships among social structure, agency and culture are abound. As such, the idea that a 'paradigm' is emerging may be somewhat problematic.
The point of view within what Hager deems as theÂ 'emergingÂ paradigm',Â however, unlike the 'standard paradigm of learning', do tend to conceptualise knowledge differently. They view it as fluid, in other words,Â produced andÂ continually reconstructed through the relationships and interactionsÂ amongÂ persons,Â rather than as an entityÂ that isÂ attained,Â internalised and owned. As Sfard (1998) views, rather thanÂ speakingÂ ofÂ 'knowledge':
begin direct quote "The terms that imply the existence ofÂ someÂ permanentÂ entities have been replaced with theÂ noun "knowing",Â which indicatesÂ action. This seemingly minor linguistic modification marksÂ aÂ remarkableÂ foundationalÂ shift â€¦ The talkabout states hasÂ been replaced with attention toÂ activities. In the image of learning that emergesÂ fromÂ thisÂ linguisticÂ turn, the permanence of having givesÂ wayÂ to theÂ constant flux of doing"Â (p. 6, emphasis in original) end direct quote
Hence, learning is similarly viewed as consisting ofÂ action,Â 'doing',Â andÂ active engagement. This is something that is produced and stimulatedÂ throughÂ social interaction and which is also contextual;Â specifically, through learning, the shape of individuals andÂ transformation ofÂ both themselves and the interact ional/social environments inside their workplace. From this viewpoint, the suitable unitÂ ofÂ analysis isÂ social/discursive relations between people rather than the isolated 'individual'.
Formal & informal learning - overlapping realities
As discussed prior, the theory of workplace learningÂ hasÂ acquired a broad array of meanings. Formal learning is given the meaning of structuredÂ learningÂ that takesÂ placeÂ 'off-the-job' as well as outside the workplace, normallyÂ in classroom-based formal educational settings (Marsick and Watkins, 1990; 2001). It is also, as discussed above, conceptualised as a 'standard paradigm' of learning: a form of learning within traditional 'educational' pedagogical frameworks, based on didactic interaction (Beckett and Hager, 2002; Hager, 2004a, 2004b). Eraut (2000) outlines how formal learning has the following characteristics:
a prescribed learning framework
an organised learning event or package
the presence of a selected teacher orÂ trainer
the award of a qualification or credit
the external specification of outcomes (p. 114)
Informal learning, as indicated by ColleyÂ etÂ alÂ (2002),Â is largely apt to be 'definedÂ in relation to what it is not - formal' (p.5) and, comparable with wider disputesÂ regarding workplaceÂ learningÂ as such, there are problemsÂ withÂ definitions: numerous texts utilize one or more ofÂ theÂ expressions withoutÂ any clear definition. In a debatable even larger number, topicsÂ involvedÂ are eitherÂ addressed or assumed, but devoid ofÂ theÂ explicitÂ use ofÂ the terms at all. A lesser, but still considerable andÂ risingÂ bodyÂ ofÂ writing places definitions ofÂ oneÂ or moreÂ ofÂ the terms concerned. Inside that third portion of literature, thereÂ isÂ littleÂ accordÂ regarding how such terms shouldÂ beÂ bounded, defined,Â or used. There is frequently significant overlap, but alsoÂ significantÂ disagreement. (p.5)
The expression 'informal learning' can, though, be conceptualisedÂ in accordance withÂ four broad
â€¢ Context: learning that takes place exterior of formalÂ educationalÂ classroom based settings
â€¢ Cognisance: intentional/incidental learning
â€¢ Experiential: practice and judgment
â€¢ Relationship: learning in the course of 'sitting next to Nellie',Â mentoring,Â team working
The above four organising principles as it pertains to informal learning are viewed asÂ central features of work as a practice, the workplace as an environment, and workforce/individual development.Â 'Informal learning' is likely, consequently, to be consideredÂ asÂ not onlyÂ crucial to understand and facilitate,Â butÂ as a more major, effective and accordingly 'superior'Â structureÂ ofÂ learning to formal learning as a classroom-based oneÂ (ColleyÂ etÂ al, 2002; Hager, 2004a).
Dale and Bell (1999) define informal learning asÂ that: begin direct quote" (â€¦) which takes place in theÂ workÂ context,Â relates to an individual's performanceÂ ofÂ theirÂ jobÂ and/or their employability, and which isÂ notÂ formally organisedÂ into a programme orÂ curriculumÂ byÂ theÂ employer. It may be recognised by theÂ differentÂ partiesÂ involved, and it may or may not be specifically encouraged. (p. 1) Marc? Where does the above quote end?
Marsick and Watkins (1990; 2001), however, offer a looser definition. They state that informal learning willÂ quote'takeÂ placeÂ whereverÂ people have the need,Â motivation, and opportunityÂ forÂ learning' (2001, p.28) and that it 'is usually intentionalÂ but not highlyÂ structured [and] includes self directedÂ learning, networking,Â coaching, mentoring,Â andÂ performance planning that includesÂ opportunities toÂ reviewÂ learningÂ needs' end quote (pp. 25-6). Drawing on an evaluation of numerousÂ studiesÂ ofÂ informalÂ learning, it is characterized asÂ follows:
It is integrated with daily routines.
It is set off by an external or internal jerk.
It is not highly conscious.
It is haphazard and influenced by chance.
It is an inductive procedure of action and reflection.
It is connected to learning of othersÂ (citation inÂ MarsickÂ andÂ Watkins, 2001, p. 28).
Formal/Informal learning: is it possible to draw a line?
As noted already, there is a tendency in the second broad category of theories of workplace learning to reconceptualise the notion of learning itself. The tendency is congruent with trends within the mainstream of educational theorizing in which as Schoenfeld (1999) noted begin quote "(...)the very definition of learning is contested,Â andÂ thatÂ assumptionsÂ that people make regarding itsÂ nature andÂ where it takesÂ place also vary widely"Â (p. 6) . end quote
Is the notion of a universal theory of learning realistic?Â As per Winch quote "(â€¦)the possibility ofÂ givingÂ a scientificÂ orÂ even a systematic account of humanÂ learning isÂ (â€¦)Â mistaken" (1998, p. 2). His argument is that there are many andÂ diverseÂ cases of learning, each subject to "constraintsÂ inÂ a varietyÂ ofÂ contexts and cultures"Â end quote which prohibitsÂ themÂ from gettingÂ treatedÂ in a common wayÂ (1998, p. 85). Winch here is thinking of "contextsÂ andÂ cultures" in the sense of the micro level. Marc? Where does the next direct quote here begin? Thus while it may be the case that, e.g., the majority of workplaces share a common macro contextÂ (e.g., part of a capitalist economy), theyÂ each have unique and particular contextual andÂ cultural features at the micro level. Winch concludes that " ïƒŸmarc here's ending quotes from something before (â€¦) grand theories of learning (â€¦)Â are underpinned (â€¦)invariably (â€¦) by faulty epistemological premises" (Winch,Â 1998, p. 183).
The ubiquity of informal learning is also generally recognised by other writers in the field, including thoseÂ who take on a social rather than a psychologicalÂ perspective (see, inter alia, Colley et al, 2002, Hager, 2004a, 2004b). However, this tends to be seen as presentingÂ aÂ severe challenge to the notion that there canÂ andÂ shouldÂ be a distinction between formal and informal learning. In a particular study of non-formal, formal, and informalÂ learning,Â Colley et al (2002) observed data drawnÂ fromÂ several broad research arenas which covered: workplace learning as it pertains to school teachers and learningÂ within further education; community education and learning; and mentoring in the contexts of business and working with excluded young people. They state that in each arenaÂ informalÂ learningÂ wasÂ exposed to be majorÂ inÂ formalÂ settingsÂ andÂ vice versa, and thatÂ the data recommendedÂ quote 'that thereÂ are few,Â if any, learning situations where eitherÂ informalÂ orÂ formal elements are completelyÂ absent' (p. 5). End quote
Billett (1999; 2002) similarly disputes making a distinctionÂ involvingÂ formalÂ and informal learning. On the other hand, unlike several of those who affirm the superiorityÂ ofÂ informal learning as both a 'practice' and an emerging new learning 'paradigm' (Lave and Wenger, 1991; Beckett and Hager, 2002; Hager, 2004a, 2004b), is principally concernedÂ toÂ shiftÂ discussionsÂ regarding learning, as it pertains to the workplace, out of anÂ 'informalÂ learning' framework.Â Billett's oppositions to the association in regard toÂ informalÂ learningÂ are twofold. First, he disputes that, in spite of attempts to disputeÂ otherwise,Â informal learning positions workplace learning as 'adÂ hoc' and therefore puts it as inferiorÂ regarding the learningÂ processes established within formal educational organizations (Billett, 2002, p. 58). This concern, as discussed above, can be seen to be rooted in the problem of how, against the standardÂ paradigm of learning, additional structures of learningÂ areÂ accordedÂ less status and significance. Conversely, rather than try to overcomeÂ this situationÂ throughÂ claims, such as those above, ofÂ the superiorityÂ as it pertains toÂ informal learning, in his second opposition,Â BillettÂ claims thatÂ workplacesÂ are actually greatly controlled environments forÂ learning:
As with educational organizations, as it pertains to workplaces, thereÂ areÂ objectivesÂ for work practice, and structured goal directedÂ activities, whichÂ areÂ centralÂ to continuity in an organizational way, and judgments as well asÂ interactionsÂ aboutÂ presentation, which are shapedÂ toÂ thoseÂ ends too. Therefore describing learning through work as beingÂ "informal"Â isÂ incorrect (ibid, p. 56).
Fuller and Unwin (2003) suggest that formal andÂ informalÂ learningÂ notÂ only are inclined to take place in conjunction withÂ one another,Â asÂ ColleyÂ et al (2002) argue,Â but also thatÂ fundamentalsÂ of formal learning are capable of andÂ do haveÂ particular importance or worth inÂ their own right.
WBL - The flexibility discourse and the hidden agenda
Whilst many thinkers and, in particular, opinion and policy makers, tend to view learning within the workplace positively, some critical researchers and other experts in the field have called attention to pitfalls and drawbacks in relation to its processes and learning outcomes. On a realistic level and mostly fromÂ anÂ organisation-centred focus, Dale and Bell (1999) point out that:
It might be too closely based so theÂ workerÂ onlyÂ learns a fraction of a taskÂ orÂ superficialÂ expertiseÂ that which may not be transferable;
It may be unconscious and not be recognised. This does not make one confident or leadÂ toÂ growth;Â
It is not simple to accredit orÂ utilize forÂ formal qualifications;
The worker might learn bad practices orÂ theÂ incorrectÂ lessonsÂ (p.4).
From an employee-centered and a more expansive socialÂ focus,Â others haveÂ argued that the emphasis on, andÂ concern with informal learning inside the workplaceÂ neglects and/orÂ obscures a variety of problematic issues. Fuller et al (2003) draws interestÂ toÂ theÂ perspectiveÂ in which an over-valuing pertaining to informal learning mightÂ leadÂ to fewer opportunities for employees to participate in formal 'off-the job' training (p. 18). As well as indicating that this could reduce the possibilities for expansive participation (FullerÂ andÂ Unwin, 2003), it too brings up the subjectÂ of knowledgeÂ control within the workplace.Â This prompts such questions as, whatÂ countsÂ asÂ legitimate knowledge,Â who defines it,Â and for whose benefitsÂ will such knowledge serve that areÂ increasinglyÂ being addressed and discussed (see, inter alios, Blackler, 1995; Spencer, 2001).
Several authors draw focus to how informalÂ learningÂ directs itselfÂ toÂ a variety of forms of jobÂ strengtheningÂ that obscured through cultures pertaining to the workplace, discoursesÂ of flexibility, and the newÂ employee subjectivities, which are produced through themÂ (Du Gay, 1996; Edwards, 1998; Solomon, 1999; Usher and Solomon, 1999; Garrick and Usher, 2000). They dispute that informal learning procedures and workplace culturesÂ consist of control, surveillance, and govern mentalityÂ that eventually shape the identities of employees and subjectivitiesÂ in conducts, whichÂ coincide withÂ the needs and interests of organisations. This dispute is mostly built upon Foucault's (1995)Â theoryÂ of regulatory and disciplinary power in which power isÂ notÂ appliedÂ from above (e.g. from the manager or employer) howeverÂ fromÂ withinÂ individuals themselves, a form of self-surveillance which is conditioned through the discourses that surround them.Â
The ways through which these relations and influences areÂ playedÂ out through informal learning processesÂ can beÂ challengingÂ on the foundation that they putÂ varyingÂ constraintsÂ upon individual workers. Fenwick (2001) disputes, for instance, thatÂ the lives of workers are apt to be 'a human resource development project'Â where:
The lessening of identity options to a prescriptive and powerfulÂ imperativeÂ for all of the workforce [to become] aÂ impulsiveÂ enterprising selfÂ disregards the diverse capabilities and opportunitiesÂ ofÂ diverseÂ individuals to thrive inÂ such a systemÂ (p. 12).
Authors concerned with gender inequalities also take up this issue. Probert (1999) and Bierema (2001) disputeÂ thatÂ forÂ adult females there are obstacles to, andÂ restrictionsÂ pertaining to learning asÂ a result due to workplaceÂ discourses and structures to which men are privileged. The 'hidden curriculum' that these create not only disadvantages women but also reinforces and perpetuates gendered stereotypes, which ultimately curtail the professional and personal development of both sexes. Cutting across gender inequalities are further inequalities based on class and ethnicity. As Colley et al (2002) observe, theseÂ power relations and inequalitiesÂ that underpinÂ and areÂ played out through them are highly significant:
Research demonstrates that sites pertaining to informal learning,Â likeÂ theÂ workplace, are also profoundly unequal, withÂ those persons higherÂ up on the management hierarchy and statusÂ receivingÂ better and moreÂ opportunitiesÂ for learning thanÂ thoseÂ towards theÂ bottom,Â who were more likely toÂ beÂ female,Â working classÂ or, at least in westernÂ countries,Â ofÂ non-whiteÂ descent' ïƒŸMarc is there another apostrophe in this paragraph that I paraphrased until I saw this; if this whole paragraph is a direct quote then put it back the way it was plz (p. 8).
These issues are viewed by many asÂ significantÂ areasÂ ofÂ enquiry needing investigationÂ in orderÂ for informal learning to be egalitarianÂ bothÂ in practice and conceptually.Â
The liberal credence in salvation demonstrated by continuallyÂ developing knowledgeÂ and aÂ knowledgeable workforce has cultivated aÂ visionÂ ofÂ theÂ post-Fordist workplace. At this juncture, in accordance with certain management enthusiasts,Â personsÂ workÂ in self-directed teams rather than command-and-control hierarchies.Â Their work is through the motivation of mission, values, and meaning,Â ratherÂ than by fear or incentives, and theÂ workplaceÂ isÂ changed from grinding assembly lines toÂ creative and empoweringÂ communitiesÂ of learning. But reviewers or opponents have charged that thisÂ rose-coloredÂ democraticÂ visionÂ frequently obscures unchanged power structures as well as divisionsÂ ofÂ labor.Â Such structures eventually restrict the learning of workers as well as actions and connectÂ their hearts and soulsÂ to the anxieties of shareholdersÂ (Fenwick, 1997). The much-acknowledged vital reflection seldom isÂ permittedÂ toÂ infiltrate organizationalÂ values. Plus in the midst of the popular hype ofÂ the current workplaceÂ asÂ an innovative center for learningÂ alongside the concomitant thrustÂ for workers' constantÂ training and development,Â LivingstoneÂ (Chapter Two,Â thisÂ volume)Â and othersÂ have shownÂ mass underemployment: many of the skills of workers and knowledge already extremely exceedÂ jobÂ opportunity and the ability of employing organizations to utilizeÂ them.Â Even so, people are forced to adapt, learn, andÂ toÂ join together their private passion and lives with their work.
'Flexibility' has become a main metaphor potentlyÂ vivifyingÂ aÂ variety of contemporary life discourses. As capital develops into a more globalised entity andÂ nationalÂ economies are progressively incorporatedÂ globally, flexibilityÂ becomes a key aim in, and aÂ means of,Â increasing and maintainingÂ economic competitiveness. Flexibility is an overriding theme amid descriptionsÂ of theÂ modernÂ workplace. Flexible workers (adaptive, responsive, transferable), flexible structuresÂ (fluid, insecure,Â changing markets, and adaptiveÂ to consumer demand),Â flexibleÂ pay (progressively moreÂ contractual), and thus flexible learningÂ areÂ understoodÂ to ensureÂ organizational competitiveness. Edwards (1998) illustrates how the naturalization of flexibilityÂ has an effect onÂ bothÂ aÂ concealed curriculum of work as well asÂ theÂ individualÂ subjectivitiesÂ createdÂ inÂ workplaces.
Constant change is something that workers are expected to accept as a given. They are also expected to relinquish any expectation of organizationalÂ loyalty and stableÂ employment, and take for granted personal responsibilityÂ as it pertains to adaptingÂ toÂ changing needs of organizations pertaining to skills andÂ labor.Â The learning of workers has been legitimated as a basisÂ forÂ organizationalÂ health, allegedly initiating a wideÂ assortmentÂ of benefits forÂ the workforce: productivity and personal growth, purpose and fulfillment, meaningful or significant relationships,Â creativity,Â even spiritual growth and happiness. The straight capitalist employer-employee relationship ofÂ workÂ exchangedÂ forÂ revenue has been altered andÂ blurredÂ by whatÂ is frequently referred to as a learningÂ focus.
Traditional knowledge standards and academics are increasinglyÂ viewedÂ asÂ inflexible,
challenged and dislodge by added flexible contentsÂ andÂ methodsÂ ofÂ learning regarded as moreÂ harmonious with the flexibility in the procedures as it applies to labour, products, markets, andÂ patternsÂ ofÂ consumptionÂ thatÂ characterise post-Fordist processes of flexible capital accumulation. All of this has added to hasteningÂ theÂ breakdownÂ of the university's domination of knowledge legitimating and toÂ aÂ growingÂ consciousness that the university is no more the sole or principal site throughÂ whichÂ 'valid'Â learning takes place.
The notion of worker empowerment, once a uniting cry for the transformation ofÂ workplacesÂ intoÂ democraticÂ learningÂ neighborhoods, has become an aimÂ ofÂ substantial criticism.Â Many speculate just how democratic an organizationÂ can imagineÂ it to be when it controls and fragmentsÂ workers withÂ knowledge as a commodity, and inhabits theirÂ minds and heartsÂ as capital resources (Baptiste,Â 2001; Hart, 1993; Martin, 1999; Schied et al., 2001; Welton,