Work-Based Learning: A Critique

By Lurong Wang.

Published by The Learner Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Work-based learning becomes part of growing body of work that responds to the dynamics of organizational changes in pursuit of profitability, flexibility, and knowledge-based workforce. Organizations’ and institutions’ stakeholders have used work-based learning as a key strategy for sustainable competitive advantage in the globalized new economy. This paper aims to interrogate the nature and role of work-based learning by arguing that mainstream approaches to work-based learning are constructed under the human capital ideology without taking the lived experience of working people and race, class, gender relations into account. The review of the literature provides an overview of the concept of work-based learning situated in the contexts of Australia and the United Kingdom. I incorporate the policies that shape the new vocational education and work-based learning in the two countries. Drawing linkages between diverse sets of literatures and policies, the analysis focuses on the theoretical orientations and approaches to defining work-based learning from a critical perspective of adult learning. Drawing from research projects on workplace learning in Canada, this paper will reveal the impacts of worked-based learning on workers’ actual practices in reality. The goal is to identify the contradiction between the contemporary training/learning programs and workplace realities, indicating the dynamic and complex relationship between knowledge/skills and power relations embedded in the process of learning and work.

Keywords: Work-Based Learning, Work and Education, The New Work Order, Relations of Power

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp.189-196. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 581.911KB).

Dr. Lurong Wang

University of Toronto, Canada

Lurong Wang is a Ph.D candidate in the Department of Adult Education and Counseling Psychology at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto. Her research interests lie in the field of literacy studies, ethnography, post-structuralism, education and literacy policies, and transnational education.


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