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Title WEX21C
Work experience as an education and training strategy: New approaches for the 21st century
Aspect
Concept Trends Findings Practice Challenge
Synopsis The project’s policy analyses confirmed the difficulties experienced by policy makers in interpreting change and setting new developments in motion. The particular policy difficulty of adequately addressing complex learning issues, particularly those involving different contexts of learning, was evident. All countries are experiencing demographic change, the effects of technical innovation and globalisation on jobs and an increasingly delayed process of insertion into the labour market. Faced with this, VET systems in all the partner countries have been undergoing reforms and attempts to align training with current and future demands of labour markets for flexible workers with good levels of general education and ‘transferable skills’, as well as relevant technical skills and knowledge. 

It is clear that lessons from past policy and practice need to be understood otherwise policy makers are in danger of reinventing what has been done in the past. There is a big polarisation between ‘leading-edge’ and other companies in their human resource policies – those successfully making the transition in the new context of work are doing the same thing: they share their values, make clear what is expected of employees and what responsibility they have for the successful running of the company. Moreover, these developments are beginning to generate a new human resources agenda. One factor is the responsibility felt by individuals and teams for adding value on behalf of the company for which they work. Consequently, in future, it will no longer be appropriate to view the purpose of work experience in knowledge-based companies as developing a technical competence in ‘something’. It will increasingly have to be viewed as a means of developing that involved sense of responsibility that enables young people to add value by knowing how to manage existing work processes effectively and, wherever possible, working in ‘communities of practice’ to transform existing work practices.

The overall policy analysis confirmed the renewed emphasis (public or rhetorical) upon learning in the workplace. Debates on lifelong learning included reference to the importance of learning outside formal institutions, such as in workplaces, on-line and in community and other settings – even though actual policy was still seen as wedded to traditional notions of work experience (Griffiths et al. 2001, pp. 6f., 26f.).

Reference Further issues of change and future needs resulting from the policy analyses are set out in the final project report (Griffiths et al. 2001, pp. 21-28).
See also project info on WEX21C.
Descriptors D-WBL  EP00  EP01        E11b
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Editor: Sabine Manning  © WIFO