In the paper I present some of the findings from my ongoing PhD project. The overall research question forming my dissertation is: What challenges the fulfilment of the Danish national strategy on ‘Lifelong Learning and Qualification for All’? In developing my research questions and design I have been inspired by amongst other Fejes’ (2006) findings that the discourse on lifelong learning demands everyone to position themselves as lifelong learners and individualize the responsibility for lifelong learning , and Paldanius’ (2002) conclusion that the politics on lifelong learning is based on an educational optimism not necessarily shared by the target groups . I therefore wanted to examine how an unskilled work life conditions the experience of a need for and possibility to participate in different kind of formal, informal and non-formal learning activities related to the job, and how this constitutes a certain learner identity. By conducting narrative interviews with 23 employees in 6 different small and medium sized private manufacturing companies in Denmark, I have focused on peoples work life stories, how they entered the labour marked, what kind of jobs and tasks they have undertaken, how their jobs have developed and how they have obtained the skills required in their jobs. I have thus examined the specific work life experiences of people working in unskilled jobs, most likely to be marginalised in a labour marked characterised by skill bias, and how these experiences constitutes a certain learner identity, understood as orientation towards participation in different kind of learning activities. This use of a concept of learner identity is inspired by Antikainens (2005) research focusing on the importance of significant others. But during my research I have found the need to broaden the concept to be able to capture and understand the experiences of the unskilled work as harmful and threatening for the physical and mental wellbeing, the significance of the experiences of one’s own capacity to do a ‘good job’, and how to build this capacity, and how the formulation of a demand for participation in formal vocational education and training always takes place in a specific societal, social and historical context characterised by ambitendencies, with certain conditions for and consequences of the choice not of the employees own making.
livslang læring; efter- og videreuddannelse; voksenuddannelse; SMV; ufaglærte og kortuddannede
Main Research Area:
Pushing Forward the Agenda: Emerging Issues in Working Life and Learning Research, 2011