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Workplace learning the focus of new report

author:Ako Aotearoa

Supporting high quality learning in the workplace is the focus of a report launched today by Ako Aotearoa, the National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence.

The report – Learning in and for Work - draws on more than 30 projects funded by Ako Aotearoa to identify both the benefits of learning in the workplace and the factors that make it successful. It includes lessons for learners, workplaces, and education organisations. The work has been prepared for Ako Aotearoa by Anne Alkema and Heather McDonald of Heathrose Research Ltd.

Successful workplace learning is about a three way partnership between learner, employer and tertiary education organisation. Each should have clearly defined roles and responsibilities: get these right and the rest will follow. “The workplace is a key part of modern tertiary education,” said Dr Peter Coolbear, Director of Ako Aotearoa. “As well as traditional trades training and professions like nursing and teaching, other disciplines are seeing the benefits of work-based education. It’s therefore vital that we know what makes for really good experiences in this area”.

Ako Aotearoa’s funded research emphasises there are three inter-related stages that learners need to be actively supported through if they are to learn in work:

• learning about the workplace

• learning about what to do and how to do it

• learning to identify as a member of the occupation and to become part of its community of practice.

While the first two may be obvious, when they are done well, they make a huge difference to learners. The third aspect is about valuing learners as integral members of the workplace: this is hugely motivational for learners as they build their skills and confidence.

Developing better connections between employers and the education sector is a major focus of current Government policy, such as the Tertiary Education Strategy and Business Growth Agenda. “Good workplace learning helps more people gain qualifications, ensures that education providers are offering relevant programmes, and grows business productivity,” said Dr Coolbear.

Learning in and for Work was launched at the New Zealand Vocational Education and Training Research Forum, in Wellington this week. This annual forum, co-hosted by Ako Aotearoa and the Industry Training Federation, is New Zealand’s largest event for exploring vocational, employment, and skills-focused education and training. Now in its 11th year, the forum includes participants from all parts of the education sector, businesses, and government agencies.

To access the report, go to:

Ako Aotearoa is New Zealand’s National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence. Funded by the Tertiary Education Commission, it funds projects on high quality teaching practices, provides professional development, runs the national Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards, and leads debate on key issues for tertiary education in New Zealand.

Monday, 20 October 2014, 2012