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     Phase I Research Network:

Improving Incentives to Learning in the Workplace

This project has now completed. Major outputs include:


Prof Helen Rainbird (University College Northampton)
Prof Karen Evans (University of London, Institute of Education)
Prof Phil Hodkinson (University of Leeds)
Prof Lorna Unwin (University of Leicester)
Dr Anne Munro (Napier University)
Prof Peter Senker (University College Northampton)
Dr Alison Fuller (University of Leicester)
Ms Heather Hodkinson (University of Leeds) and
Ms Akiko Sakamato-Vandenberg (University of London, Institute of Education)
Dr Natasha Kersh (University of London, Institute of Education)


Initial Project Summary

This Network worked with practitioners and others to establish a better understanding of learning practice at, for and through the workplace. By developing the concept of apprenticeship as a model of workplace teaching and learning it aimed to contribute to improving the achievement of learners in this field.

The five projects which made up the network were united by two themes: the significance of communities of practice and the role of the wider regulatory framework of the employment relationship (for example, wages and conditions of employment, levels of unionisation, legal requirements) to workplace learning. The projects were:

  • The regulatory framework of the employment relationship
  • The role of tacit skills in workforce re-entry programmes
  • Key skills in older and younger workers
  • Apprenticeship models in contemporary industrial society
  • The school as a site of work-based learning for teachers.
Considerable work was put into developing mechanisms for co-ordinating the five projects to ensure that the research themes are fully integrated; that research tools are shared and that potential synergies between the projects are fully developed. A website (http://www.northampton.ac.uk/ncr/esrc-resnet) and a database were established for publicising the Network and disseminating findings. In the early stages of the research, the projects focussed on the development of research design, developing contacts with practitioners, negotiating access, researching contextual issues and starting fieldwork.
Links with practitioners were crucial to the success of the network as a whole and to individual projects. The network had a strong advisory group on which a range of practitioner interest groups are represented. Their support for the network reflects the centrality of workplace learning to contemporary issues of workplace change and the value of research which can enhance the attainment of learners. The research was timely in relation to policy developments, in particular the creation of the new Learning and Skills Councils in England and Wales and the growing emphasis on workforce development at different levels (national, local and sectoral). It was also relevant to the review of Modern Apprenticeship, performance management in schools, and the potential future role of union learning representatives in influencing training provision. It coincided with the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Developmentís interest in mechanisms for strengthening workplace learning and trade union campaigning for a right to paid educational leave.

Report of TLRP/SKOPE Workshop, Northampton, 8-10.11.01



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