Workpackage 4

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Learning trajectories in the workplace
WP Leader: Trine Deichman-Sørensen.
Participants: Anne Inga Hilsen, Dorothy Sutherland Olsen and Tone Cecilie Carlsten + 1 Postdoc.
Objectives: To generate a set of descriptions of learning trajectories as experienced by late career learners. To gain a better understanding of the relationship between formal, non-formal and informal learning over time, with particular emphasis on the institutional and cultural contexts of learning at work. As Lahn (2003) points out, although issues of late career have received much political and public interest over the last decade, contributions from research have been meagre.
4 PIAAC – Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies carried out by the OECD.

Approaches and methods applied: Case studies using semi-structured interviews will be used. Cases will be selected to illustrate different kinds of work in the public and private sector, including professionals and those with university-, vocational- or on-the-job training. We will use the concept of the learning trajectory to identify learning throughout the working career, and to discuss future plans with regard to work and retirement. As Billett (2001) and Lahn (2003) suggest, we will use sociocultural perspectives to sensitise us to the institutional and cultural contexts of learning. We will carry out a multilevel analysis looking at the initiatives taken by the organisation, by colleagues working together and by the individual. Some of the things we will look for are how employees might influence their own trajectories by “job-crafting” (Hackman & Oldham 1980), how colleagues develop commonalities, making shared practice possible (Edwards & Talbot 2014), how they might find ways of making theoretical knowledge useful and relevant for their work situations (Guile 2014) or how they might develop techniques over time, which make it easier for them to accept and adapt to continuous change, such as new technologies and organisational change (Deichman-Sørensen 2009).
The organisations we have been in touch with about this project are in the health sector (one hospital and several healthcare institutions), energy (including small hydro electricity producers and an international firm), transport (including personal and goods transport) and a selection of large and small IT-consultancies. Our case studies will consist of interviews with HR-mangers and selected employees within the same organisations. Our choice of cases is designed to provide a variety of learning situations in small and large firms in different business sectors. However, the final selection will be adjusted to reflect interesting findings from WP2.

Description of work and sub-tasks: Develop an interview guide based on the results of WP1/WP2/WP3. Interviews with employees will include questions on intended age of retirement. Where appropriate, interviews will be supplemented with observations in the workplace. Interviews with HR-managers will aim to gain an overview of company strategies and the activities they have engaged in, relating to older employees. Interviews with employees will be designed to gain examples of practice-based learning, which will be analysed in order to understand how the combination of formal-, non-formal- and informal learning over time has shaped the career and employability of these older workers.
D 4.1 – Analysis of strategies and activities practiced to retain late career learners and to maintain their active participation in the workplace
D 4.2 – Descriptive analysis of learning trajectories of late career learners in four sectors of Norwegian working life

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