A roadmap to Work and Learning in 2015 in the Autonomous Province of Trent, Italy (E.U.)

Intercontinental Master’s Program in Adult Learning and Global Change

Course: Work and Learning                                              Assignment 3: Final Report

Instructors: Dr. Garnet Grosjean (UBC)

Discussion Group: The IncREDibles    Tutor: Deo Bishundayal              Date: 04/1/2009

A roadmap to Work and Learning in 2015 in the Autonomous Province of Trent, Italy (E.U.) –Link to Itslearning


Each title has a hyperlink to the relevant section



  • The nature, organization, and changing conditions of work
  • New organizations of work-and-learning
  • Equality of access to learning opportunities and employment
  • The impact of globalization and internationalization on learning and work







This report presents a road map to 2015 on the future of work-and-learning in the Autonomous Province of Trent, Italy, a.k.a. Trentino. It begins with a brief review of the course literature, followed by a section on past and current policies in Trentino. My recommendations and conclusion will close the report.


This section will review the literature on the following topics based on its relevance to this report:

  1. The nature, organization, and changing conditions of work
  2. New organizations of work-and-learning
  3. Equality of access to learning opportunities and employment
  4. The impact of globalization and internationalization on learning and work.

1. The nature, organization, and changing conditions of work.

In the past, organization of work and formation were mainly informed by Tayloristic and Fordistic approaches based on mechanistic efficiency. Nowadays we observe a shift towards scenarios that “provide workers with broader based forms of responsibility and opportunities to learn and develop” (Brown & Lauder in Guile and Griffiths, p.117).

Even though Human Capital Theory (Langelett, 2002) still plays a prominent role in relevant policies, the changing nature of work conditions requires dynamic and systemic approaches that include a broader spectrum of factors beyond the strict economic parameters considered in HCT. Such new approaches deal with both organizational and pedagogical issues in the workplace.

As an example of pedagogical discourses, Smith (2003) outlines a variety of delivery and learning approaches stemming mainly from Social-constructivism. Although these approaches cannot be universally and uncritically applied across different work-and-learning contexts, I concur that a certain structure is necessary for most learners to have a positive experience. Smith, citing research by Warner et al., shows that a majority of Australian VET learners “are not prepared for self-directed learning.” Other researches confirmed that learners have “a low preference for independent learning” and seem to prefer learning situations where “an instructor leads the process” and makes “very clear what is expected of learners.” Brooker and Butler’s research on the Australian workplace supports the idea that “apprentices rated highly those pathways to learning that involved structured learning and assistance from another more expert worker” (Smith, pp.78-79).

Trentin suggests that instructors should consider the prominent role of collaborative learning based on active dialogue, advocating the combination of the learning of abstract “concepts with direct experience” (Smith, p. 149).

Finally, Smith also suggests that flexible delivery of training requires the learners’ engagement with both material and the learning community at large. As suggested by Wenger, learning ensues also from the “effective use of the community of practice to pursue learning goals” (Smith, p. 80).

2. New organizations of work-and-learning.

Stemming from the need for new approaches to work-and-learning, Poel et al. (2003) proposes a holistic integrated model aimed at overcoming issues of “naïve constructivism.” It would provide a necessary platform for learning programs, sensitive to the actors’ needs and diverse learning approaches and also to the contextual institutional necessities.

Illeris (2004) recognizes that learning is a complex and multilayered process and that it “also involves complicated patterns of motivation, understanding, meaning, emotions, blockings, defense, resistance, consciousness and subconsciousness.” Thus learning wraps around several dimensions that include social and individual levels; cognition and emotions; and technical-organizational and socio-cultural contexts (Illeris, p.435, 440). This analysis can help reframe future approaches to work-and-learning.

Billett (2004) talks about how the workplace provides venues, content, and opportunities, collectively referred to as affordances. Learning occurs at the interface between learners’ willing engagement and the affordances made available to them.

Guile and Griffiths suggest a synergistic approach that would involve “re-thinking how students can be supported to relate their ‘vertical and horizontal development’ by addressing the institutional separation of these modes of learning” (Guile and Griffiths, p. 116). The influence of context upon learning is central to this approach and supports Billett’s affordances scheme.

The aforementioned models provide the foundation for an integrated system where all agents, stakeholders, and institutional centers would contribute to a new platform for work-and-learning in Trentino.

As mentioned above, personal responsibility and engagement play a prominent role in workplace learning experiences. This will be expanded upon next.

3) Equality of access to learning opportunities and employment.

Most articles in the course do not present “power and exclusion” as factors of economic and social imbalances at the international level. Their role is presented within workplace dynamics, mainly western, in the context of on-the-job training within professional learning communities.

Power is defined differently across the readings. Huzzard (2004) provides a general definition of power along with a radical and relational interpretation and recognizes the importance of language as a tool of domination within learning practices (Huzzard, pp. 352-355).

Wojecki (2007) presents collaborative learning and relational trust practices in workplace learning as ways to re-direct power issues. Educators and adult learners in vocational educational practices encounter “an extraordinary amount of power in the structuring of training programmes, thus shaping imbalanced power relationships” (Wojecki, p.178).

Furthermore, Wojecki believes that the experience of wounding learning may negatively affect a learner’s attitude towards further education and workplace formation (Wojecki, pp. 169-171). I fear that, also in Trentino, immigrants are particularly at risk when exposed to negative, discriminatory attitudes in learning.

Abovementioned considerations support relevant E.U. and provincial policies of access to work and education.

4. The impact of globalization and internationalization on learning and work.

Once sheltered areas like Trentino now need to re-assess old-established traditional approaches to work-and-learning in the light of recent globalization trends. The new scenario affects issues of pedagogy and internationalization, giving rise to a web of intertwined relationships.

Guile and Griffiths (2001) suggest a “connective model” in which “trainers and the workplace develop partnerships to create environments that foster learning within the workplace” (Savoie-Zaic, p. 117). Such learning context requires commitment and resources from both enterprises and local government agencies.

This framework could be expanded into a network of partnerships that would contribute to re-shaping and realigning power relationships between work-and-learning contexts and their participants. This new scenario is defined as an “alternation system” (Schuetze, p. 5-6) and offers a variety of pathways to education, workplace learning, and work. This new integrated framework would be based on sound principles of active citizenship, employers’ needs, and learners’ personal identities, histories, and learning styles.

It appears that the language used to define the evolving marketplace and education universe at the start of the third millennium is based on a broad sense of inclusion and co-participation. It includes terms like appropriation, co-participation (Billett, 2004), legitimate peripheral participation (Huzzard, 2004), life-long learning, agency, individual learning pathways and more. I believe that such comprehensive taxonomy will help overcome entrenched patterns of exclusion and establish policies more attuned to our ever changing, globalized world. This is reflected in the reframing of relevant European policies along lines similar to those described above.


The Province of Trent is part of the autonomous, trilingual Italian Region of Trentino-South Tyrol, located on a north-south axis between Germany and Italy. It has long played a bridging role across cultural boundaries. Its location and history make it an ideal site for transnational cooperation.

According to Italian Law, education and skill formation fall within the legislative prerogatives of the province. (Statuto Speciale, Art. 8). The local system of “Education and Formation” is regulated by a comprehensive provincial law that addresses many aspects of education and professional formation in Trentino (Legge 7 agosto 2006 n. 5).

Historically, education in Trentino is rooted in the tradition of the past Austro-Hungarian administration, forging a dual-system of cooperation between educational institutions and employers. As it has happened in Germany, this model has come into question with the emergence of new factors of instability (Beck, p. 52). In spite of the difficulty in comparing international scenarios (Papadoupolos, p. 44), it is worthwhile noticing that the perceived crisis affecting the German dual-system similarly spread to traditional formation policies in Trentino.

Over the decades Trentino’s organizational approach has changed from Taylorism to a complex system based on co-operation and negotiated solutions. However, the province still shows several weak points that are affecting future transformations: cooperation between science and industry and within business sector could be expanded; the presence of a strong public sector with propensity for subsidies; an underdeveloped entrepreneurial culture with a small industrial base; and a fragmented and segmented firm structure (Koschatzky, p.6).

Additionally, one must also consider the impact of current globalization trends, particularly the arrival of immigrants from non-EU countries, now representing 12% of the total population (CNEL, p.12).

These factors may influence Trentino’s ability to successfully pursue new policies on work-and-learning in compliance with current E.U. recommendations, whose focus is shifting away from Human Capital (Langelett, 2002) and Segmented Labour Market theories (DeFreitas, 1995), towards issues of social capital, inclusion, discrimination, active citizenship and participation, pathways to self-realization, life-long and self-regulated learning.[1]

Current developments in education and training at the local, national, European and international level require Trentino to adapt and expand its traditional approach.

The provincial government has thus begun to elaborate a wide-ranging vision by embracing the concept of foresight, defined as “a systematic attempt to look into the longer-term future and draw conclusions for today.” Foresight is about bringing together “actors from different sectors, thematic and societal backgrounds so that different ideas are introduced and assessed from different points of view […] to formulate strategic views about the future” (Cuhls et al. p.6).

Following this approach, Trentino is developing a “joint vision for the future,” and working out “specific measures to make the region one of the leading regions internationally” (Koschatzky, p.5). It is concurrently enacting policies on equitable access to employment and social inclusion of immigrants (Cepollaro, 2008). Policies on work-and-learning are a pivotal aspect of such vision.


I would like to start my recommendations by expanding on the suggestions put forth by Koschatzky (2003) and Cuhls et al. (2003) with regard to the development of a transnational co-operative framework.

The authors argue for a process of transformation based on foresight, as defined earlier. It is my understanding that such transformation requires a collaborative effort among all parties involved within Trentino’s historic and economic framework. In particular, regional specificity, strengths, and weaknesses will need to be accurately examined before undertaking a comprehensive policy review. As recognized by Papadoupolus (2002), history, culture and context are important aspects of “educational thinking and policies” (p.40). Globalized approaches need not discount the value and specificity of local experiences in both education and workplace learning. The challenge is to be mindful of such experience while engaging in a transformative process that would hopefully develop into a new paradigm for work-and-learning.

A strong co-operative tradition has been present in Trentino for the past 200 years. The location is ideal for cross-border co-operation. Furthermore, Trentino has an established network of local education institutions that includes vocational schools, university departments, and research centers. A transnational approach to work-and-learning would not only benefit the region, but also enrich neighboring areas.

I do not subscribe to a one-fits-all universal approach, but instead favor a system of dynamic coordination among different parts of the world. E.U. and provincial policies seem to point in this direction.

Marsick and Watkins (1999) suggest metaphorical scenarios that could provide possible visions for effective transformations at the provincial level. Although the “chaos/complexity metaphor” (Marsick and Watkins, p. 204) would not be suitable in a region with very strong traditions embedded in well-established institutions of learning, Trentino could instead profit from further expanding its already existing networks into an open system of relationships both within and outside its borders.

Specifically, considering its long-standing role as a cultural bridge and its autonomy status, I recommend that the provincial government, in a synergistic effort with all other stakeholders, agencies, and actors involved, continue on a path of transnational and collaborative transformation of its education and employment practices, while supporting and promoting active citizenship and life-long learning policies. These recommendations reflect the view of the European Commission, which already in 1995 suggested that “globalization is generating the need for new learning relationships between education and work which will support life-long learning” (Guile and Griffiths, p. 115).[2]


Similarly to what Marsick and Watkins (1999) suggested, future policies of work-and-learning should be framed within an open system approach that would ensure permeability of access within and across interrelated work-and-learning contexts. By doing so, we could transform – and not just reform – today’s approach into a new challenging and promising platform that would offer opportunities for open participation, motivated interaction, transnational co-operation, active citizenship, and diversity of learning styles and educational pathways.

Trentino appears to be well-equipped to meet the challenges emerging from globalization processes. It can rely on a track record of co-operative initiatives rooted in the region’s traditional mediated social approach to both education and work.

Considering today’s current market conditions, the road to 2015 may not be as predictable as it may have been only a few months ago. Nevertheless, I believe that a systemic foresight approach may serve well in these uncertain times.


Beck, U. (2000).The future of work and its scenarios: An interim balance-sheet (Chapter 4), The brave new world of work (pp. 36-66). Cambridge, UK: Polity Press

Billett, S. (2004). Workplace participatory practices: Conceptualising workplaces as learning environments. Journal of Workplace Learning. 16 (6), 312-324

Cepollaro, G. (2008), Reduction of the Mismatch between Supply and Demand in Employment: Transnational e-Recruitment Services, Conference: L’inserimento e l’integrazione in Trentino degli immigrati dall’Est Europa, Trento, May 6, 2008, TSM-Trento School of Management. Accessed on March 7, 2009 at http://www.tsm.tn.it/interne/l%E2%80%99inserimento_e_l%E2%80%99integrazione_in_trentino_degli_immigrati_dall%E2%80%99est_europa_materiali.ashx?id=8257&idd=2719

Consiglio Nazionale dell’Economia e del Lavoro, CNEL (2008). Gli immigrati nel mercato del lavoro italiano,  Accessed on Feb 27, 2009 at http://www.portalecnel.it/Portale/documentiAltriOrganismi.nsf/0/C1256C5A0028856BC1257504004FA0B9/$FILE/Rapporto_Immigrati_Nov-2008.pdf

Cuhls, K. et al. (2003), The Science and Technology Base of the Provincia Autonoma di Trento: Capacities, Trends and Opportunities, Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung ISI, Karlsruhe, Germany. Accessed on Feb 7, 2009 at http://www.isi.fhg.de/p/download/10-technical_report.pdf

DeFreitas, G. (1995). Segmented Labor Markets and Education. In M. Carnoy (Ed.), International Encyclopedia of Economics of Education (pp. 39-44) Oxford and New York: Pergamon

Grosjean, G. (2004) Co-op education: Tensions and Outcomes of Experiential Learning. In Jane Gaskell and Kjell Rubenson (Eds) Educational Outcomes for the Canadian Workplace: New Frameworks for Policy and Research. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. 204-220

Guile, D. & Griffiths, T. (2001). Learning through work experience. Journal of Education and Work, 14(1), 113-131

Illeris, K. (2004). A Model for Learning in Working Life. Journal of Workplace Learning, 16 (8), 431-441.

Husén, T. (2002). Education in 2000 and 2025: Looking Back to the Future. In D. S. Istance, H. G. Schuetze, & T. Schuller (Ed.), International perspectives on lifelong learning: From Recurrent Education to the Knowledge Society (pp. 25-31). Buckingham, UK: Open University Press

Huzzard, T. (2004). Communities of Domination? Reconceptualising organizational learning and power. Journal of Workplace Learning. 16 (6), 350-361.

Langelett, G. (2002). Human Capital: A summary of the 20th century research. Journal of Education Finance, 28 (summer 2002), 1-24

Marsick, V. J. & Watkins, K. (1999) Envisioning new organizations for learning. In D. Boud & J. Garrick (Eds.), Understanding Learning at Work. London: Routledge, pp. 199-215

Koschatzky K, (2003) Trentinoplus 10: Guiding questions and Foresight concept,

Conference Building the future in an enlarged and more integrated Europe

Trento, 6 October 2003   Accessed on Feb 7, 2009 at http://www.vinnova.se/upload/dokument/Verksamhet/Kunskap_om_innovationssystem/Teknisk_framsyn/trento1.pdf

Papadopoulos, T. (2002). Lifelong Learning and the Changing Policy Environment. In D. S. Istance, H. G. Schuetze, & T. Schuller (Eds.), International perspectives on lifelong learning: From Recurrent Education to the Knowledge Society (pp. 76-88). Buckingham, UK: Open University Press

Poel, R.F. and Van der Krogt, F.J. (2003). Learning Program Creation in Work Organizations. Human Resource Development Review, 2 (3), 252-272

Provincia Autonoma di Trento, Legge 7 agosto 2006 n. 5, Sistema educativo di istruzione e formazione del Trentino, (08/16/2006), Bollettino ufficiale della Regione Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol n. 33, suppl. n.2 (testo originale), Retrieved on Feb.9, 2009 at http://www.vivoscuola.it/Normativa/Leggi-prov/doc/LEGGE-PROVINCIALE-7-agosto-2006-n.-5-vigente-al-05.11.07.pdf

Raffe, D. (2003). Pathways linking education and work: A review of concepts, research and policy debates. Journal of Youth Studies. 6(1), 3-19

Savoie-Zajc, L. and Dolbec, A. (2003). Co-operative education in the pulp and paper sector in Quebec. Journal of Workplace Learning. 15 (30, 114-122).

Schuetze, H. G. & Sweet, R. (2003). Integrating School and Workplace Learning in Canada: An Introduction to Alternation Education Concepts and Issues. In H. G. Schuetze & R. Sweet (Eds.), Integrating School and Workplace Learning in Canada: Principles and Practice of Alternation Education and Training. Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press

Smith, P.J. (2003). Workplace Learning and Flexible Delivery. Review of Educational Research 73 (1), 53-88.

Statuto Speciale per la Regione Trentino-Alto Adige/Suedtirol, Testo unico – D.P.R. 31 agosto 1972, n. 670, (11/20/1972), Gazzetta Ufficiale della Repubblica Italiana, n. 301, Retrieved on February 10, 2009  at: http://www.regione.taa.it/normativa/statuto_speciale.pdf

Wojecki, A. (2007). What’s identity got to do with it, anyway? Constructing adult learner identities in the workplace. Studies in the Education of Adults. 39 (1), 168-182


Autonomous Province of Trent, Italy, E.U.: Dipartimento Istruzione, Vivoscuola


Autonomous Province of Trent, Italy, E.U.: “Formation”


Autonomous Province of Trent, Italy, E.U.: “Work and Employment”


EURES – The European Job Mobility Portal: Provincia Autonoma di Trento, Italy


European Commission: Education and training/Life-long Learning


European Commission Memorandum on Lifelong Learning, 2002


Tsm- Trentino School of Management, Pontest Project


University of Trent, Research Unit on Communication, Organizational Learning and Aesthetics


[1] For more on individual responsibility and agency, see OECD, 1998 in Billett (2004, p. 321); on EU policies, synergies, access, connective model see European Commission, 1995, in Guile & Griffiths (pp.115, 116, 117, 125, 126, 127); Grosjean (2004); on pathways, see Raffe (2003) and Schuetze et al. (p.4); on active citizenship see 2002 European Commission memorandum on Lifelong Learning (Raffe, p.13); on social capital see Husén (2002).

[2] For more information on E.U. life-long learning recommendations, see European Commission Memorandum on Lifelong Learning, 2002 www.bologna-berlin2003.de/pdf/MemorandumEng.pdf

2 Responses

  1. see this comment written for a different course:


  2. TEACHER’S EVALUATION by Deo Bishundayal
    Work & Learning Assignment Three Feedback – Oscar Vallazza
    I enjoyed reading your well organised paper, Oscar. It gave me an insight about the challenges that Trentino faces as it tries to match learning and work in today’s globalized context. I appreciated that you included a title page, a table of contents and a list of references used.
    In your introduction you alerted the reader what you will focus on in the paper. The literature review provided a good portrait of the issues which scholars and policy makers currently debate in the domain of work and learning.
    The section on the legislative prerogatives and vision of Trentino drew attention to the difficulties in changing work practices/cultures. I appreciated the points that you made when you stated “the province still shows several weak points that are affecting future transformations: cooperation between science and industry and within business sector could be expanded; the presence of a strong public sector with propensity for subsidies; an underdeveloped entrepreneurial culture with a small industrial base; and a fragmented and segmented firm structure.”
    Your recommendations were based on the points which you developed in the paper.
    In your conclusion you projected a sense of optimism that “Trentino appears to be well-equipped to meet the challenges emerging from globalization processes” despite the uncertainties of our time. In politics and public policy, planning for change is a never ending process which conveys optimism. This you have done in your recommendations.
    There are a few things that you may want to consider for future work, Oscar.
    1. Pay attention to in-text referencing when using ‘pp’ or ‘p.’ APA rules suggest that ‘pp’ is used in the reference section to indicate chapter pages of a book, etc.; ‘p’ is used when you reproduce a direct quote. On page seven, for instance, you wrote “….embracing the concept of foresight, defined as “a systematic attempt to look into the longer-term future and draw conclusions for today.”” This quote has to be referenced.
    2. If you paraphrase the central idea of someone’s work, you do not have to write the page number; writing the year will suffice.
    3. Some works which you referred to were undated. For example, on page three, “Brooker and Butler’s research” should be written as “Brooker and Butler’s (date) research” and “research by Warner et al., shows…” should be written as “research by Warner et al.(date), shows…” These references should be included in the bibliography. Both were missing.
    4. You have to tendency to start paragraphs, as in the literature review section, with a writer’s name and year of her/his work. This type of listing in academic writing raises questions about what idea is embedded in the topic sentence of the paragraph…..the writer as a person or her/his idea? It is better to paraphrase the writer’s idea and write the reference at the end of the topic sentence. Within the paragraph it is OK, as you develop your argumentation, to start sentences with a writer’s name and date of her/his work.
    5. Try to synthesise ideas to form paragraphs which have more than one sentence.
    6. Provide some examples of non-EU countries from where immigrants to Trentino hail.
    You are a good writer, Oscar. Future work will be greatly improved if you were to pay attention to the nuances which I pointed out above.
    Grade: Very Good
    Keep up the good work, Oscar. I wish you continued success in the ALGC program.
    Deo. April 5, 2009.

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