Friday, April 24, 2009

ITF research forum day 2

Day two began with a presentation by Dr. Karen Vaughan on conditions & strategies for making the most of workplace learning. Understanding challenges presented by workplace learning presents the opportunity to work on strategies to improve learning in the workplace. Workplace learning defined as on the job + off the job + integration with business strategy. 21st century workplace learning needs are impacted on by speed of adoption of technology, globalisation etc. challenges include the tensions between knowledge & skill, hierarchies & roles, and learners & motivation. Others include how workplace interactions are enacted, the complexity of the task, what regulations cover the business, how much technology needs to be introduced or utilised, how market forces impact, the workplace culture, suitable learning strategies, involvement peers, mentors & learners in goal setting, availability of feedback & knowledge sharing (reflection) and opportunities to practice & take some risks.

Concurrent sessions follow the rest of the day. First one I attended is from Helen van der Werff, from the Horticulture ITO on increasing the impact of industry training investments in the horticulture industry. Based on qualitative nation wide survey of 19 businesses & interviews with 4 ITO training advisors. Harvey & Harris (2008) 7 drivers of productivity used to access productivity & learning to performance process (Brinkerhoff, 2002), logic of training, a high impact learning management (Brinkerhoff, 2001) used to inform the study.

Second presentation from the Department of Labour on skills in demand: past, present & likely in the future from Dr. Ram SriRamaratnam, Richard Manning and Xintao Zhao. This covered brief overview of skill concepts (types & measures), employment skills (their mix & content), high level skills categories and skills demand (2003, 2008 & 2013). Demand also include additional / expansion demain, replacement / retirement demand. In summary, still a need for ‘skilled workers’ into the future due to forecasted replacement & retirement demands.

After lunch, first session up was from Paul Mahoney from the Ministry of Education on factors associated with success in industry training and modern apprenticeships – what the data tells us. Over 180,000 industry trainees / apprentices in 2008. Analysis at the moment focuses on credits & national qualifications completed as proxies of success. Two reports, one of industry training & one on Modern apprenticeships just produced. In industry training, 35% of students entering complete their full course within 5 years. Similar levels of completion to polytechs / private providers & rates in UK (27 – 40%) & Australia (45%). Females more likely to complete than males. Some industries in NZ have higher levels of workplace based training completions for both trainees & modern apprentices. Older workers more likely to complete.

Then attended session on a comparative analysis of stakeholders’ evaluation of NZ industry training strategy within the tourism & public sectors from Lois Parkes of Victoria University. Lit review reveals, interest in skill from publick policy & business perspectives, assumptions that skill = qualification, investment = outcome, many economies have fallen short of the high skill = high wage vision. Evaluation was based on a positivist bias therefore stakeholders perspectives & experiences are not taken into account. There is a research gap as not the whole range of stackholders perpectives have been collected, collated & compared.

Last session of the day was on embedded workplace training: benefits for the health & disability sector by Liz Stephenson from Careerforce & Rose Ryan from Athena Research. Embedded model of training is defined. Features of how organisations obtain maximise, support & evaluate cost effectiveness. Learning and assessment were part of workplace practice, support provided by Careerforce workplace advisors to assist trainees in using workbooks, learning resources & trainee verification. Embedding requires a high level of commitment & resourcing but costs are offset by reduced turnover / recruitment & improved quality of service. Embedded model helped to overcome barriers to learning amongst non-tradtional learners.

The conference ended with a plenary session for questions & answers facilitated by Jeremy Baker & with questions from the floor to the three keynote presenters, Professor David Ashton, Dr. Johnny Sung & Dr. Karen Vaughan.