I just attended the Citizen conference on adult learners in the 21st century – challenges of job related training and learning, organised by the l’Institut de coopération pour l’éducation des adultes (ICÉA) and I got a better grasp of how to improve workplace learning policy. In the province of Quebec the challenge of work place learning was to be adressed by a new policy in 2002, known as « 1 % » – the idea is businesses would be legally bound to invest 1 % of their total salary mass in the professional development of their employees.
5 years later, we ask ourselves, was this initiative successful? Well … research shows that the more a worker is young, educated, earning a high salary and working for a large business, the greater his chances are at benefiting from this measure. Why? It’s simple, because it is an employer managed measure – employers invest « their » training money where it benefits most for them (in their perception) – studies show that employers prefer to invest in their permanent employees who are successful and demonstrate committment to the company . Conclusion – despite this « innovative » measure, people who could really benefit from training and workplace learning are excluded. More than that, consultants and freelancers are entirely neglected in the measure.
How could we structure things better? Rather than making it a managment directed measure, make it a worker directed measure. That means, enable workers, all workers, inclusiveley, to be able to manage their workplace learning and training. And, (can you hear me coming?) this is where workplace learning policies meet up with eportfolios practices. One of the premises underlying the eportfolio movement is that the user of the eportfolio has ownership over his eportfolio. I manage my competence development and career via my eportfolio and it belongs to me, so that when I move from job A to B, it does too. This point is often missed, in policies and in practice, but when you stop to think of it, it is the foundation of lifelong learning, don’t you think?
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