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Training and learning

December 21st, 2011 by Graham Attwell

This time of the year things are supposed to be quiet. Christmas parties and that kind of stuff. However at Pontydysgu its not like that this year – though a dare say we may stop for the odd mince pie and glass of mulled wine in the next few days.

We have been completing project reports and writing new proposals. And I have been traveling for the last five weeks. So there is plenty to update on this blog.

The week before last I was in Bucharest for the final conference of the PREZENT! project – aiming to increase participation in continuing training for those at risk in the labour market. The project has taken a series of actions over providing access information, and awareness about opportunities for continuing and lifelong learning in Romania.

And it turned out to be a very inter sting event. The conference organisers had produced a draft strategy on training in Romania and used the event for consultation prior to submitting the strategy to the education ministry. Although I was struggling to follow the debate (my Romanian being non existent) the strategy certainly seemed to have sparked off a considerable discussion.

Yet many of the issues were hardly new, or indeed unique to Romania. Delegates were concerned about business models and how training should be financed. Indeed, there seemed to be much support for the idea of a training levy on enterprises. Delegates were concerned about the quality and regulation of training. And delegates were concerned about professional development for training and particularly over the use of technology for training.

Personally I felt they were over optimistic about the potential impact of legislative change or even at getting legislation right. However this might reflect different cultures and certainly in the past there has been some evidence that Romanian governments have taken more interest in training than the UK (although that is not difficult!).

My contribution to the conference was mostly based on the use of technology to support informal learning. And although everyone was very polite and said how much they had enjoyed the presentation I am not sure they got it. Learning remains inextricably bound to formal training programmes usually linked to classroom or workshop delivery. Whilst there might be acknowledgement of the importance of informal learning it goes no further than that.

Possibly it is because trainers see no role for themselves in informal learning. however I have long held that informal learning does not happen by accident. Informal learning depends on rich learning environments be they in school or in the workplace. And informal learning depends on the ability to use that learning in work or in everyday life. For many their job does not provide either that richness in activities or in learning environment. For many the workplace is just a source of drudgery. And this could be the vital role trainers could take – in designing and developing rich learning environments. But I think for that we would require new ways of recognising learning based on learning processes rather than merely accrediting outcomes. And whilst education and training remains dominated by a discourse around competences that doesn’t seem likely to happen.

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