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Issue Vocational identity, flexibility and mobility
Outline [MKu:] The idea of the project 'FAME - Occupational identity, flexibility and mobility in the European labour market' is to find out how people handle these changes in their work places. Are there any factors influencing the ways in which people respond to these changes, in particular factors which are related to work ethics or to roles which learning plays in their lives as workers? Are the ways in which people cope with these changes influenced by the work and learning environments in their countries? 
The sectors chosen for investigation include telecommunication, health care and the metal industry. Interviews are carried out with employers and employees. Employers have been asked about how they would like their workers to handle the changes; employees are now being asked about how they manage to handle the changes. In a further step, these two kinds of perspectives will be confronted in order to find out whether they coincide or whether there are different ways of tackling identity conflicts.
Debate [MM:] You have done the interviews with the managers on how they would like their workers to cope with the changes: do you see any differences between European countries in this respect?  
[MKu:] The results of the interviews have not been evaluated as yet, except for France, however the choice of countries involved in the project implies a strong variation of traditions, especially concerning the relation between learning and work. The discussion at the beginning of the project revealed that in Germany the main factor influencing these identity changes arises from the vision of work as 'Beruf', whereas in the UK it would be interesting to look at how vocational training effects the way of handling changes at the work place; but in countries where vocational training does not play a role identity is much more determined by the direct relation to work. 
[MM:] What comes out from the French investigation as the most important preference of managers to cope with the changes? - [MD:] In France, you can find variations within each sector, also within organisations, whether family-owned or multinational in character; in telecommunication there are two variations: in slow-changing companies you find workers who have the status of civil servants (highly unionised), and you find the new contractual workers with high mobility; in fast-moving companies some highly qualified people have the fear of becoming more generalist in the field, with specialised staff loosing ground; this is not the case in big companies which are still anchored to their established activities.
[JF:] It is interesting that the project FAME integrates perspectives from the previous communist block (Estonia, Czech Republic); is the Accompanying Measure on HRD looking into the experience of these countries? [MM/SM:] Our measure has a broad perspective, including all the evidence from the projects involved; if there is further information about these countries we would be happy to receive this.
Reference Preliminary findings of the project FAME include the French case 'forms and implications of work related identity transformation' (Dif 2001c) and the case of Estonia 'from normatively constructed identity to new  identities in the contexts of 'double' transition processes' (Loogma et al. 2001).
Event ECER/ VETNET: Lille Sept 01: Roundtable 'HRD in Europe'
Descriptors  D-CDO  EP05          V08
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Editor: Sabine Manning  © WIFO