Working and learning in vocational education and training in the knowledge era : final report of the professional development for the future project

Henry, John 2004, Working and learning in vocational education and training in the knowledge era : final report of the professional development for the future project, ANTA, Australian Flexible Learning Framework.

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Title Working and learning in vocational education and training in the knowledge era : final report of the professional development for the future project
Alternative title Final report : Working and learning in vocational education and training in the knowledge era, professional development for the future project
Author(s) Henry, John
Publication date 2004
Publisher ANTA
Place of Publication Australian Flexible Learning Framework
Keyword(s) Education and training services industry
Occupational training
Summary This Report summarises the outcomes of the phases of the Professional
Development for the Future Project and presents the implications of this research for professional development of staff in Vocational Education and Training (VET), as they become knowledge workers.

These shifts are occurring within the knowledge era. Distinguishing features of this era are summarised into four broad areas:
- the importance and value placed on knowledge in organisations
- the time span of discretion
- the complexity of relationships, and
- the ubiquitous nature of information and communication technology.

It is within this context that work is currently performed, and understanding this context provides the foundation for considering new capabilities required in the knowledge era.
Key capabilities required of knowledge workers to work effectively in the
knowledge era were drawn together from an analysis of the theoretical literature and the results of interviews with knowledge workers. The core capabilities identified include:
- adaptive problem solving – becoming designers as well as problem -
- rapid knowledge gathering and sharing with others
- discriminating between relevant and irrelevant information, and
- understanding and working effectively with the organisation’s culture.

Knowledge era characteristics and knowledge worker capabilities have been mapped to each other illustrating conceptual linkages between these two areas.

Professional development themes drawn from interviews with knowledge
workers are presented. While global trends in knowledge work have been well documented, the impact of these trends on the capabilities of workers, and the ways in which knowledge workers develop these capabilities is less well understood. Their learning methods challenge our current thinking in relation to the ways in which workers acquire skills and knowledge. Some of the professional development methods include seeking exposure to new ideas from a wide variety of sources, embracing intense learning opportunities, and using relationships to increase knowledge.

‘Thought pieces’ (see p17 ff) commissioned for this Project, as well as
subsequent interviews with the authors, provided further insights into the
professional development of knowledge workers. The implications of these insights are an extension of earlier themes and emphasise:
- the emergent nature of knowledge work
- the importance of relationships that facilitate knowledge sharing
- coherent conversations and dialogue
- collaborative work and generosity.

A key insight is the shift from thinking about knowledge work in terms of
borrowed knowledge to an emphasis on generated knowledge within a context.

Data from focus groups of the Project provide further insights for knowledge worker professional development. These augment the perspectives of the earlier data analysis but also add greater emphasis to:
- the clear and direct relationship between professional development and
work and career aspirations of knowledge workers,
- the relationship of professional development to the organisational
mission, and
- the issues of managing and leading knowledge workers and their

As part of this analysis the defining features of organisational life in VET were reviewed in relation to effective professional development of knowledge workers.

The final section of the Report revisits the core dimensions of the Project.
Concise commentaries on working and learning in the knowledge era,
professional development in the knowledge era, and leadership and
management in the knowledge era are presented.

The Report concludes with a discussion of the enablers of professional
development for knowledge workers in VET. This discussion is introduced by a re-statement of the VET sector’s positioning in the knowledge era and the consequences of this for VET managers an d staff in terms of complexity, uncertainty and diminished prospects for accurate predictiveness. The enablers comprised:
- integration of information technology into socio -technical systems
- greater understanding of the organisation from within
- connecting staff to the organisation’s fundamental identity
- connecting to the work and career trajectories of workers
- establishing work structures which integrate the use of professional
development resources with knowledge work
- providing workers with the autonomy to design their own professional
development activities
- building professional development into the iterative nature of knowledge
work, and
- creating organisational contexts that value intuitive thinking and working.

Professional development needs to be thou ght of in a much broader context in the knowledge era. What each VET staff member knows and shares will become increasingly central to their work, and in that sense all VET workers require capabilities for knowledge work. This report accurately describes t he VET context, the capabilities required, and the organisational enablers that will promote ‘knowing’ and thus embed a new style of professional development within VET.
Notes "February 2004"
This work has been produced with the assistance of funding provided by the Commonwealth Government through the Australian National Training Authority.
CONTENTS -- Acknowledgements i -- Abstract 2 -- 1. Introduction 5 -- 2. Project Methodology 7 -- 3. Insights for the Professional Development of Knowledge Workers 10 -- 3.1 Literature survey and knowledge worker interviews 10 -- 3.2 Contemporary theories and thinking: implications of the thought pieces 17 -- 3.3 Focus Groups : Responses from professionals in the VET industry 25 -- 4. Working and Learning in VET in the Knowledge Era: Enabling effective professional development 31 -- 5. Conclusion: What does this research mean for the VET sector of Australia? 44 -- References 46 -- Contributors to the Project 47
ISBN 1920906541
Language eng
Field of Research 130108 Technical, Further and Workplace Education
HERDC Research category A5 Minor research monograph
Copyright notice ©2004, Australian National Training Authority
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