Review Issue of debate on HRD in Europe

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Issue Knowledge development of the low-skilled
Outline Broad context:
[MK:] In a knowledge-based society learning and knowledge should be more than just a crucial economic element, and learning should be more than ex-post compensation for the problems arising from the economy; instead learning and knowledge should be ex-ante governing principles of society. 
[MT:] Tensions and contradictions can be envisaged from the viewpoint of the learning economy, in particular concerning the widening gap between knowledge 'haves' and 'havenots' within industrial countries (based on: Tomassini 2001k, p. 3).
Debate [JB:] This is to pick up on the issue of the power relationship in knowledge sharing and development. What worries me very much, and I haven't got a solution, is that in an enterprise, with a lot of knowledge development and learning, we still have those at the bottom line of the hierarchy: employees with low skills who are hardly involved in that process. If we just look at the places of formal learning we know that those with low skills hardly participate. My impression is that in quite a lot of the policy oriented documents this is a problem which is neglected to a substantial extent, in the sense that they are talking in very general terms and that no one raises the issue of how you can manage the knowledge development of those at the bottom line of the enterprise. And how you can really manage their learning process. In my perspective this is a major question which should be addressed.
[YK:] Findings from our investigation show that men at the metal works get very little training, and when looking at it this is not real training: it is about transmitting the ideology of the company. So the little content of training they get is not allocated to generating knowledge or cognitive things; it is more about the social effects of the expansion of competences. This is also something one has to be alert about in companies, and the unions should discuss it much more: what kind of formal learning and training is actually beneficiary and what is just indoctrination. 
Even more important is another aspect: when you are engaged with low-skilled workers you have to start where they are, with an understanding of how they can really get involved in a knowledge developing work content. If you don't do this you gain nothing. I would assume that the informal learning model is much more beneficiary than to introduce formal learning. 
Event E&T Cluster: Fiesole Oct 01
Descriptors D-CDO  D-KM  EP02        V10
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Editor: Sabine Manning  © WIFO