Pierre Caspar: Training Networks and the Changing Organization of Professional Learning


FORUM: The future of work and education

TOPICS: Pierre Caspar, cognitive learning society, E.U., active citizenship, motivation

Pierre Caspar: Training Networks and the Changing Organization of Professional Learning (link to Itslearning)

The article examines the issue of life-long learning and reminds us that training will have to take into account the changing conditions in today’s word: training is designed in a different way; training is implemented in a different way, and in new spaces; training needs to be implemented and managed differently.

I was particularly interested in its application to the development of lifelong learning policies in the E.U. and the establishment of a cognitive (or learning) society that will promote active citizenship. Active citizenship also appears in a citation in the ILO chapter where, according to the EU Memorandum on lifelong learning, active citizenship is about how “people participate in all spheres of economic and social life, the chances and risks they face in trying to do so, and the extent to which they feel that they belong to, and have a fair say in, the society in which they live”. Raffe (2003) defines it as follows: “In the words of the European Commission’s memorandum on Lifelong Learning, ‘Living and working in the knowledge society calls for active citizens who are self-motivated to pursue their own personal and professional development’ (European Commission, 2000, p. 17). Active citizenship is promoted through the processes of education, by letting young people own and manage their educational biographies, as well as through its formal content” (Raffe, p. 13).

In such context, Caspar envisions a society where “learning is a natural process, where everyone is potentially teaching and learning” (p. 111).

On the other hand, each individual’s personal commitment is pivotal to the success of such ambitious program. (p. 113) This was also affirmed in other articles examined in this course.

However, I can see that in this model of lifelong learning a gulf could develop between active participants and those who are – for whatever reason – not participating, or are even excluded from participation. I believe that the affordances made to all need to be accessible to people who may be currently marginalized and not fully integrated in the complex system of formal education and work formation.



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

School and work (BLOCK 3)




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



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


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.



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




Reply to Nemin’s post

Nermin wrote:

I’ve tried to look at this the way you suggested, focusing on the Situation/Context today, the Factors behind that, and the Outcomes that have resulted from it. However, I found that the outcome was already covered when explaining the current situation.

I think that you have a point here. I also do believe that contexts may serve as factors of discrimination. Contexts are not neutral environments, as they are shaped by issues of politics and power. They may provide a climate for limited access and discrimination even before applicants and learners appear on the scene.

Nermin wrote:


(..) If we want to show how that is evident in education and employment opportunities we can take an elite private university as an example. (…) Their selection criteria would focus on maintaining that elite status, accepting people of certain social levels. In order to attract that caliber their selection criteria for employment would also focus on an elite staff, foreign nationalities, international degrees, and work experience in elite institutions.

I think I understand the scenario that you are presenting in your post. I believe it reflect current trends in certain countries ( is Egypt one of them?) that rely on foreign education to sustain and perpetuate their ruling class. I believe that this may not always be the case with European countries, that are still heavily relaying on their own education credentials. “International degrees and foreign nationalities” may be talked about as important in a person’s personal development and career pathway, but I am afraid that in reality in each country the selection process is still heavily informed by national policies and education policies. As an example, you stand a much better chance at getting a job in Germany or Italy if you have received your academic credentials in-country. In fact, the use of foreign credential (from non EU-countries) in the public sector very often feels like an up-hill bureaucratic nightmare.

Education and Formation in Trentino-South Tyrol

Intercontinental Master’s Program in Adult Learning and Global Change

Course: Work and Learning  (UBC, Vancouver, Canada) Assignment 1.3: Final Post

Instructors: Dr. Garnet Grosjean

Discussion Group: The IncREDibles    Tutor: Deo Bishundayal            Date: 02/ 13/2009


How would you classify the policies pursued toward work and learning by your own country compared to the descriptions provided in the readings? In other words, are the suggestions in the readings similar or different from what you perceive happening in your country? Maximum length for this submission is 1000 words.


FORUM: Current development and discourses on work and learning


ASSIGNMENT 1.3 FINAL POST (link to Itslearning forum)

ASSIGNMENT 1.3 FINAL POST (link to e-portfolio)

ASSIGNMENT 1.3 FINAL POST (link to Essays)


According to Italian Law, in the Region Trentino-South Tyrol education and skill formation are the domain of the autonomous provinces of Trent and Bolzano. Consequently, in these matters provincial laws override national laws and regulations. (Statuto Speciale, Art. 8)

This post will address how this assignment’s questions relate to the case of the Autonomous Province of Trent, next referred to as “the Province.”

Brief overview of the provincial context for work and learning.

The provincial system of “Education and Formation” is regulated by a provincial law, a long and comprehensive document that addresses many aspects of education and professional formation in the Province. (Legge 7 agosto 2006 n. 5) Next are some salient principles presented in the law that I deem relevant to this post:

  • The establishment of a comprehensive education system named “Provincial Education System (sistema educativo provinciale); (Art. 1)
  • The central role of public schools; (Art.2)
  • The definition of learning as relevant to human, cultural, social and professional development, from a perspective based on social integration and the building of relations with others and the region. (Art.2)
  • Education and professional formation must promote local economic and social sustainable development, and also support individuals’ choices with regard to work opportunities at the local, national, and European level. The curriculum must be informed by principles of peace, solidarity and international co-operation; (Art.2)
  • The recognition of and support for life-long education and learning;(Art.2, 68)
  • Provision for inclusion with regard to people with special needs and social disadvantages;(Art.2)
  • The promotion of professional formation and development through opportunities available locally, in the E.U. and abroad;(Art.2)
  • The promotion of co-operative education projects between the Provincial Education System and regional society and enterprises;(Art.2)
  • The presence of a network of vocational schools and of co-operative  venues for formative work experiences (similar to Canada’s); (Art. 65)
  • The establishment of a system for “advanced professional formation” (alta
  • formazione professionale); (Art. 67)
  • The promotion of Adult Education opportunities at different levels; (Art. 69)
  • The view of Education and life-long learning as both agents and product of “active citizenship.” (Art. 61, 69)

Brief comparative Analysis of the local context.

Although it was difficult to locate material on the topic with regard to the Province of Trent, I believe that – based on my own learning in this course – the system established by the Provincial Government is consistent with European Union policies. In particular, the important concept of “active citizenship” presented in the Provincial Law also appears in a citation in the ILO chapter. According to the EU Memorandum on lifelong learning, active citizenship is about how “people participate in all spheres of economic and social life, the chances and risks they face in trying to do so, and the extent to which they feel that they belong to, and have a fair say in, the society in which they live”. Furthermore, The Cologne Charter (1999) – also cited by ILO – calls for “a renewed commitment by governments, investing to enhance education and training at all levels; by the private sector, training existing and future employees; and by individuals, developing their own abilities and careers.” Universal access to learning and training for all, including the disadvantaged and illiterate, and the importance of life-long learning is also emphasized.(Chapter 1, p. 7) In its provincial education and formation network, the Province seems to adhere to accepted European views and recommendations.

I perceive the provincial system as a mixture of traditional learning approaches and social constructivist views. It is the result is a holistic framework that organizes the different levels of education, formation, professional development, co-operative projects, and life-long learning in agreement with broad and inclusive E.U. recommendations. These ideas find support in Illeris’ article, particularly in his model of multilayered learning based on a social constructivist approach that views learning as wrapping around several dimensions that include both the social and individual levels; cognition and emotions; and technical-organizational and socio-cultural contexts.(Illeris, pp.432,434,440)

In the past, at least in Europe, we have witnessed a welfare view of society that influenced many of the employment and formation policies in the European Community first, and later in the E.U. As explained in Kearns and Papadopoulos’ article, to this day, many countries’ education and training plans are founded on such premises. (2000)

Historically, education in the Province is rooted in the Central European tradition that still informs relevant policies in Austria and Germany, where a dual system of cooperation between educational institutions and employers exists. (Kearns and Papadopoulos, p.4). However, I believe that the original framework has been expanded and adapted to the needs of today’s society. In a systemic effort to develop an all-encompassing view of future developments, the provincial government has integrated policies of social inclusion with – among others – policies that recognize the need for personal growth/affirmation and environmental/economic sustainability.

I think that the provincial system strongly promotes “social capital.” However, I believe that such concept is understood in the terms defined by the OECD as “aspects of social life – the existence of networks, institutions, policies, norms and relationships – that enable people to act together, create synergies, and build partnerships,” (Kearns and Papadopoulos, p.16), rather than by Putman’s initial definition as “the networks, norms, and social trust in a given social organization that enable cooperation and collaboration toward mutually beneficial outcomes.” (Smith, p. 70)

In conclusion, I would argue that the Province is moving away from the original idea of education being a product of the welfare state and part of a dual system that benefited the needs of late 20th century’s employment market. We are witnessing the transformation of the aforementioned approach into a matrix of relationally connected learning contexts that engages the many stakeholders and agents in and outside the region. This results into a multileveled dialogue aimed at the development of experiences of life-long learning towards the construction of professional competencies and active citizenship at the local, national, European, and international level.


This post was based on Block 1 readings. Additional resources are listed below, together with the sources cited in the post.


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

International Labour Organization. Learning and Training for Work in the Knowledge Society. (Only Chapters 1 and 2 required reading.) Retrieved January 5, 2009 from http://www.ilo.org/public/english/employment/skills/hrdr/report/ch_int.htm

Kearns, P. and Papadopoulos, G. (2000). Building a Learning and Training Culture: The Experience of Five OECD Countries. National Centre for Vocational Education Research, Leabrook, Australia. Retrieved on January 30, 2009 from http://www.ncver.edu.au/research/proj/nr9015.pdf

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

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

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