Skills-formation Goes to Work: Workplace Learning and Skills-formation among Baccalaureate Graduates in Trinidad and Tobago (T&T)
thesisposted on 05.07.2016, 15:08 by Hazel Carter Strachan
This research investigates the workplace as a site for learning and skills-formation in Trinidad and Tobago. Traditionally the unit of analysis for measuring learning has been the individual cognition situated at university. This research posits the social community as the main unit of analysis, situated in the workplace to elucidate the unique brand of skills-formation developed among graduates. It overcomes the scarcity of empirical research, adding new insights on educated workers learning and skills-formation at the workplace. The objectives of this study were to identify skills baccalaureates learn at university and work, elucidate the pedagogy of workplace learning (WPL), explicate novice to expert transitions, and structure/agency factors that influence WPL and skills-formation. A mixed-method approach yielded descriptive statistics, and qualitative data validated and corroborated findings from differing research paradigms. One hundred and twenty-six graduates answered a self-completion survey and six leaders participated in semi-structured interviews. Both situated learning theory and activity systems provided a syncretised analytical framework for understanding the relationship between WPL and skills-formation, and a structure-agency approach resulted in a balanced perspective, not overly focused on the individual viewpoint. This research offered new insights on educated workers skills-formation in the workplace, and findings concur that WPL among graduates leads to a high-skills route. This research posits that while the skills developed at university are vital, learning for productivity originates at work. The workplace is the fundamental institution that develops skills for productive activity, however, skills-formation at university provides a platform for calibrating a high-skills route. Baccalaureates enter the workplace as novices, encounter WPL, and develop specific skills that result in expertise. This thesis contributes to the scholarly literature on the interconnectedness between working and learning of educated workers, and the general social learning debate. Working and learning are not mutually exclusive but are inextricably linked in developing key skills that drive productive activity.