Issues of access and power in future scenarios

COURSE: WORK AND LEARNING

FORUM: The future of work and education

TOPICS: Doornbos, power, access, active citizenship, motivation, elite workforce,

Doornbos, A.J., Bolhuis, S. and Simons, P.R. (2004): Modeling Work-related Learning on the Basis of Intentionality and Developmental Relatedness: A Noneducational Perspective. (link to Itslearning)

As pointed out in other posts on this last block of readings, issues of power, inequality, and access will continue to affect future policies of work and learning.

I believe that there is a real danger of creating a framework of affordances that is restricted to those who are “in the system,” leaving the others out. Examples of such a development are at hand both in workplace training and in formal education.

Doornbos et al. – however – recognize the impact of issues of power and access in workplace learning contexts, whereas they assume equality of access in formal education settings.

“Cliques, politics, and power may intentionally or unintentionally influence the distribution of opportunities to learn. Those with more access to power can claim learning opportunities, and they can also deny opportunities for learning, whereas those with less power may find access to what they want difficult. In contrast, access to learning is assumed to be equal within a formal education setting” (p. 257).

Unfortunately, the article does not seem to add much with respect to such assessment. This could lead to the establishment of what Rifkin calls (see his article) an elite workforce.

The risk is real, as also recognized by George Papadopoulos in his assessment of access policies. (see article Lifelong Learning and the Changing Policy Environment)

I feel that current and future policies of work and learning should frame the discussion within an open system approach similar to the one suggested by Marsick and Watkins. 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.

STRATEGIES AND POLICIES ON SOCIAL EXCLUSION AND DISCRIMINATION (1)

COURSE: WORK AND LEARNING

FORUM: Participation in education and work; identity and social exclusion.(BLOCK 2)

School and work (BLOCK 3)

TOPICS: EXCLUSION, DISCRIMINATION, SYNERGY, connective model, appropriation, co-participatioN, legitimate peripheral participation life-long learning, agency, individual learning pathways

ASSIGNMENT 2.3

STRATEGIES AND POLICIES ON SOCIAL EXCLUSION AND DISCRIMINATION (1) (link Itslearning)

Hi folks,

As we are sailing into the last phase of the group assignment, here are some thoughts on policies and strategies as I identified them in the readings.

I think that we could identify several levels at which we could effectively tackle issues of exclusion and discrimination.

In the reading, I found a lot of emphasis on the establishment of a broader system of education/formation/workplace training based on a systemic approach.

Guile and Griffiths mentions the need for a synergetic approach that would involve ” re-thinking how students can be supported to relate their ‘vertical development’ and ‘horizontal development’-by addressing the institutional separation of these modes of learning and by taking more account of the influence of context upon learning.” (p. 116)

To me this constitutes the basis for an integrated system that will combine the many agents, stakeholders, institutional centers that will then contribute to the development of a  new platform for work and learning.

As cited in Guile’s article (P.117), such transformation will change Fordist and Tayloristic models of work relationships “and therefore provide workers with broader based forms of responsibility and opportunities to learn and develop (Brown & Lauder, 995).”

Guile and Griffiths suggest a “connective model” (nicely summarized in Savoie-Zaic’s article) in which “trainers and the workplace develop partnerships to create environments that foster learning within the workplace” (Savoie-Zaic, p. 117)

From there, I believe that we can expand into a network of partnerships that will contribute to re-shape and realign power relationships between and inside work and learning contexts and their participants. Schuetze defines such new scenario as “alternation system.” (Schuetze, p. 5-6) Accordingly, a new integrated framework will emerge, based on employers’ needs; learners’ personal identities, histories, and learning styles; through a variety of pathways to education, workplace learning, and work. This system will be based on sound principle of active citizenship.

And this is, I believe, the core concept that will emerge as the most important factor in anti-discrimination policies.

The language used to define the evolving marketplace and education universe at the start of the third millennium appears to be based on a broad sense of inclusion and co-participation. It includes terms like appropriation, co-participation (Billett, co-participation at work), legitimate peripheral participation (Huzzard, Communities of domination), life-long learning, agency, individual learning pathways and more.

I believe that the building of such complex taxonomy shows an attempt to overcome entrenched patterns of exclusion and establish new policies that are more attuned to our ever changing, globalized world.

From my own research about the E.U., it emerged a consistent move towards the reframing of European policies along lines similar to those described above. How are these approaches currently used in different countries? Are they useful to address and overcome issues of discrimination and exclusion?

FACTORS OF SOCIAL EXCLUSION AND DISCRIMINATION

COURSE: WORK AND LEARNING

FORUM: Participation in education and work; identity and social exclusion.(BLOCK 2)

School and work (BLOCK 3)

TOPICS: FACTORS OF SOCIAL EXCLUSION AND DISCRIMINATION IN EDUCATION AND EMPLOYMENT

ASSIGNMENT 2.2

FACTORS OF SOCIAL EXCLUSION AND DISCRIMINATION (4) (link itslearning)

Reply to Claudia’s post

Claudia wrote: Oh Larissa, I read your post and I identify quite the same situation that we live in Mexico about discrimination. Besides the characteristics you mentioned, in Mexico is important if you’re “good looking”, light skin, slim body, height, etc. Of course “pretty” people have the “nicest” jobs. I found this degrading cause we are a “mestizo” culture (Indian and Spanish).

What I know is that Brazil is much more multicultural, anyway as I said before there are so many things in common.

Claudia, Larissa,

The situations you described are not unlike certain situations in Europe. In Italy it’s widespread practice to hire people based on who they know and not what they know. The technical word for that is “raccomandazione.” In Germany, that on the surface seems fairer in its hiring policies, the phenomenon also exists and is know as “Vitamin B” ( B stands for the German word Beziehungen, i.e. “connections”); in the US, where discrimination is for the most part prohibited by law, the same phenomenon is called “networking.”

Here is another example of how discrimination occurs in different countries. In the US, a resume’ should not contain information about the applicant’s place of birth, age, and definitely no picture is required. In Germany, the same information and picture are required on a resume’. One could argue that hiring outcomes in Germany may be affected by such information, and probably they are. The fact is that, like in the case of the US, even when the information is not explicit, employers have ways to find that out: age is easily inferred by the length of employment and education records; race may be linked to the location of schools or from the applicant’s name. Of course, such inference would be arbitrary, but that is exactly what discrimination is about: arbitrary exclusion based on stereotypes and prejudices.

The difference between western and other countries may be that, although discrimination happens apparently everywhere, in the West we find that, at least on paper, the phenomenon is under control. But is it really? Obviously not. E.U. policies and actions against discrimination are great, and hopefully, in the long run, they will produce the kind of paradigmatic change that will eventually make discrimination obsolete.

For more information on E.U. policies on issues of access and discrimination, see

European Commission, Action against discrimination, Civil Society http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/fundamental_rights/index_en.htm

European Commission, Access to employment and social inclusion http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/esf/fields/employment_en.htm

THE CASE OF TRENTINO

COURSE: WORK AND LEARNING

FORUM: Participation in education and work; identity and social exclusion.(BLOCK 2)

TOPICS: FACTORS OF SOCIAL EXCLUSION AND DISCRIMINATION IN EDUCATION AND EMPLOYMEN; TRENTINO; IMMIGRATION;

THE CASE OF TRENTINO (linkItslearning)

In my home region (Trentino-South Tyrol), the provincial governments are in charge of education and formation policies. As anywhere else, the region knows issues of discrimination and exclusion as they have been presented in our group discussion. I would like to focus on one in particular, i.e. discrimination and exclusion affecting immigrants mainly from non- E.U. countries. This group has been known for being a target of social exclusion and discrimination. The problem is not unique to the province but find resonance across national and regional borders, which is why I decided to introduce it into our discussion.

In fact, “Similar barriers (in labour market conditions) are found in all countries:

– language difficulties

– a lack of recognition of qualifications and working experience

– difficulties with access to vocational training

– different social and cultural backround

– discrimination” (Action against discriminations in labour market, 2007)

According to the Italian Council on the Economy and Labour, in the province of Trent, a.k.a. Trentino, immigrants represent 12% of the total population. (Consiglio Nazionale dell’Economia e del Lavoro, p.12.) They face difficulties adjusting to a culture that is dramatically different from their original ones. In fact, the province has been till recently sheltered from immigration flows and has enjoyed a relative isolation and prosperity, which is now attracting an increasing number of immigrants.

Recognizing the global nature of such issues, the provincial government engages in collaborative projects that extend beyond the local boundaries.  This will transition  the discussion into the third part of our assignment, which is concerned with “strategies and policies that might be considered in order to address this phenomenon.”

I will talk more about this in the relevant discussion thread, where  I will also present a summary of strategies and policies as they emerged from the readings for this assignment.

SUMMARY: ASSIGNMENT 2.1

COURSE: WORK AND LEARNING

FORUM: Participation in education and work; identity and social exclusion.(BLOCK 2)

TOPICS: FACTORS OF SOCIAL EXCLUSION AND DISCRIMINATION IN EDUCATION AND EMPLOYMENT

SUMMARY: ASSIGNMENT  2.1

FACTORS OF SOCIAL EXCLUSION AND DISCRIMINATION (link to forum)

Here are some summarizing thoughts on factors of social exclusion and discrimination that I gathered from the readings.

In ILO’s paper on “learning and Training for Work” we have seen how enabling access to education and training is viewed as a pillar of policy making efforts to ensure people’s participation in “economic and social life.” (p.1) Education and training are seen as the gateway to employment, which in turn would help overcome poverty. Such premises inform current E.U. policies on access and inclusion. Many countries’ training and education systems are based on such premises, as clearly explained by Peter Kearns and George Papadopolous in “Building a learning and training culture: The experience of five OECD countries.” However, in my view such approach may be too linear, discounting the complexity of present day’s economic disarray. It is definitely true that “governments throughout the world are taking action to promote access of these groups to education, training and skills development in different ways,” (ILO, ch.2 p. 12) but in reality such programs may have limited effects on general employability during dire economic times.

But who has access to learning and work? Personally, I believe that to date education credentials serve as powerful access-regulating devices, which means that access to the job market depends on applicants’ formal credentials. There are of course many other forms of more or less overt discrimination that may affect access to the job market are: gender, nationality, age, language, immigration status, university affiliation, perceived ethnic profile.

Most of the aforementioned factors were not addressed in the readings, However, access to employment and continuing academic and professional formation may be hindered by other more “technical” factors that were discussed in the articles. Here is a brief summary of them as they emerged from my reading.

1) ISSUES OF ACCESS WITHIN COMMUNITIES OF PRACTICE

Guile & Griffiths recognize that access to skill formation in communities of practice may be subject to discriminatory policies. “This raises the question of how easily students gain access to and operate in such work contexts. A recurring assumption in the general education and VET work experience literature is that this happens ipso facto. However, this neglects the extent to which participating in a ‘community of practice’ can be highly problematic. As Gheredi et al. (1998) have observed, it requires ‘host’ organisations actively to provide opportunities for learners to observe, discuss and try out different practices with members of the ‘community’ they have temporarily joined.” (p.118)

Power

As I wrote in my other post on power in “Communities of domination,” Huzzard recognizes the role of power in issues of access to learning in communities of practice. He suggests that “the power dimension was arguably lost in a process whereby the communities of practice became “popularised” to appeal to a management audience (Brown and Duguid, 1991).” (p. 352) He also recognizes that language can be a factor of social exclusion and discrimination: “In unequal power relations, the dominant party may actively choose to communicate or construct reality by selecting certain linguistic formations, or may simply communicate in the taken-for-granted formations which seem appropriate in context.”(p. 355)

2) ISSUES OF ACCESS TO COOPERATIVE EDUCATION OPPORTUNITIES

Grosjean in Co-op Education recognizes that the Canadian Co-op model is becoming increasingly like an elite program with restricted access.

“With restrictive access to co-op and privileged opportunities for ‘good’ jobs becoming the norm, co-op is showing signs of becoming an elite program.” (p.209) “Access to co-op programs is becoming increasingly restrictive. Only ‘the best’ students are admitted.” (p.209) furthermore, co-op programs seem to favor students with good grades and with the learning styles that are conducive to receiving such grades. “Because academic rewards are based on grades, personal learning styles tend to favour those known to deliver the high grades required to remain in the co-op program.” (p.212)

3) ISSUES OF ACCESS TO THE JOB MARKET AND TO FURTHER JOB FORMATION OPPORTUNITIES

From my understanding, segmented labor market theory as presented by Defreitas serves as both a factor of discrimination that impacts access and participation , and as a policy feature that serves as perpetuating a system of inequality.

4) PERSONAL ISSUES THAT MAY LEAD TO EXCLUSION AND DISCRIMINATION

I also believe that the experience of wounding learning as cited in Wojecki’s article may be a factor that may negatively affect a learner’s attitude towards further education (academic and workplace formation).

On Andrew Wojecki’s article: What’s identity got to do with it, anyway?

COURSE: WORK AND LEARNING

FORUM: Participation in education and work; identity and social exclusion.(BLOCK 2)

TOPICS: WOJECKI, ACCESS, DISCRIMINATION, EXCLUSION

On Andrew Wojecki’s article: What’s identity got to do with it, anyway? (link to forum)

Reply to Claudia’s post

Claudia wrote:

For me while reading Wojecki’s article I agree with most of his states. Opposite of what you mentioned Dana.

And I agree on the basis that he worked with these adult learners over a two year period. When working with the same individuals from this term you can and in my point of view is a must to listen deeper and further connect with them (as Wojecki stated).

I reckon we have to look at both considering the relation between learners and teachers is reciprocal, there’s shared responsibility and commitment.

Claudia,

As a teacher, I also believe that Wojecki’s article has merit. It is in line with current educational approaches that place responsibility on both educators and learners. I nevertheless raised a question on the feasibility of such “intense” approach, given the already energy and time-consuming demands placed on teachers. I would think that Wojecki’s ideas should be included in the general learner-centered approach to education, as they broaden the context of learning so as to include past learning experiences and individual present dynamics of learning.

Having said that, the question here is how relevant is Wojecki’s article to our analysis for Assignment 2.

I believe that his ideas could be situated at the THIRD LEVEL (see my other post ), i.e. at the interface of previous learning experiences and workplace, when a learner seeks access into the job market. Today, as it was recognized in other threads, formal education credentials play a pivotal role in the selection process. ( I am using the term “formal education” as a way to refer to school and universities, even though Billet goes out of his way to show that in reality this is an artificial distinction.) Applicants find it difficult to have their experience considered within the hiring process; this way they may become victim of discrimination. Giving value to individuals’ identity building process and personal narratives could be a way to partly overcome exclusion at the “access to employment” level.

I also believe that his ideas could be situated at the SECOND LEVEL (see my other post), after people gain access to education and jobs. In this case, discrimination in the form of disregard fro the personal narratives and identities of learners/employees may emerge as policy traits embedded in current dominant views on skill formation, which situate the power clearly in the employers’ hands. In this case, how teachers/mentors/expert co-workers see their role could make a big difference in the way learners/employees learn. Wojecki suggests the following pedagogical strategy:

“Through examining and reflecting on how our teaching and assessment practices cultivate, encourage, and promote opportunities for adult learners to reflect on how they see themselves in the world, spaces may be created where learners experiment in re-authoring their identities for learning. As adult educators, we occupy privileged spaces in which we interact within the stories that comprise learners’ lives. Attending to learners’ identities, and listening to the stories of learning they tell and re-tell may assist us as we shape our own identities and practices as adult educators.” (p. 180)

Access, discrimination, exclusion

COURSE: WORK AND LEARNING

FORUM: Participation in education and work; identity and social exclusion.(BLOCK 2)

TOPICS: ACCESS, DISCRIMINATION, EXCLUSION

Access, discrimination, exclusion (link to forum)

Reply to Claudia’s post

Claudia wrote: Is it that the factors are the causes and the levels the consequences?

Hi Claudia,

Thank you for engaging in the debate. In my post I used the words “three levels” to refer to three stages at which discrimination/exclusion may occur. Of course, mine was just a suggestion that will need to be discussed further.

Here is how I see this:

ASSIGNMENT 2.1 One way of approaching that task would be to proceed with analyzing the following. We will need to identify and analyze how factors interact at each level and the kind of outcome that will produce:

LEVELS (where/when): CONTEXTS= SITUATIONS in which discrimination/exclusion occur;

FACTORS: what/who contributes to the emergence of discrimination/exclusion: like the factors that you have mentioned in your post;

OUTCOME: discrimination, exclusion and other relevant outcomes that may emerge from discriminatory policies (i.e. benefits to others in the case of affirmative action policies);

In 2.2, we will apply our understanding to examples from a familiar cultural context (Claudia may choose to present a few examples from Mexico…)

In 2.3, we will then discuss policies/strategies that may alleviate the negative effects of discrimination and exclusion in both education and workplace as we identified in 2.1.

Does this make sense? I believe that if we approach this step by step and proceed swiftly with the discussion, we should be able to write the final paper as a reflection of our collaborative work.

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