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Employers do not understand learning

December 2nd, 2008 by Graham Attwell

Interesting survey by the UK Chartered Management Institute and reported in the Guardian newspaper.

“The institute interviewed 1,000 managers aged 35 and under, working in industry, commerce, local government and the police. Their most common complaint was that older bosses regarded the internet as “a massive timewaster”. Half said their organisations did not take up web-based technology until it was tried and tested, and 16% described their employers as “dinosaurs”. The survey found most young managers wanted to use the internet for research, professional development and other aspects of getting the job done. But employers treated it with suspicion. The survey found 65% of organisations monitored usage, rising to 86% in local government and 88% in the police. This led 65% of employers to block access to “inappropriate” sites, rising to 89% in local government and 90% in the utilities. Eighteen per cent of employers limited internet access to certain times of day, rising to 38% in the insurance industry.”

Some two years ago we published the results of a project looking at e-Learning in Small and Medium Enterprises in Europe. We undertook 105 case studies in six different countries. We found few instances of formal e-learning (or formal learning of any kind). However we found extensive use of the internet for informal learning. Older workers were more likely to use ICT for learning than younger staff. This, we concluded, was due to two reasons: older workers were more likely to have unlimited access to the internet becuase of their seniority. And older workers were more likely to have autonomy to use the results of their learning in the workplace.

The Chartered Mangement Instutute survey shows that businesses have still not progressed in their understanding of learning, less still in thinking about innovation. Informal learning is potentially the most powerful driver of innovation. But this requires both access to learning opportunties and work organisations which allow autonomy to utilise learning. Most businesses still don’t get it.

NB Sadly I cannot find an online copy of the Chartered Mangement Institute Survey. Probably costs lots of money. But you can download the book we produced – Searching, Lurking and the Zone of Proximal Development – E-Learning in Small and Medium Enterprises in Europe – for free.

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3 Responses to “Employers do not understand learning”

  1. Emma says:

    That link to your book is 404ing … so I can’t download it 🙁

  2. Graham Attwell says:

    Sorrt Emma and thanks for reporting – link fixed now

  3. Linda says:

    I’ll say this much. Any of us older folks who have worked in IT since its beginning would call this report bogus. Along with the fact that most courses available today are on the internet, granted behind firewalls, but easily accessible from anywhere.

    I understand the youth of the 35 and under group thinking that way but it is not all about work with them.

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