Project Number LLP/LDV/TOI/2007/IRL-507
Project Type Projets de transfert d'innovation
The aim of the project is to transfer the innovative qualities of the Choices project from the area of Guidance for disadvantaged job-seekers and low paid workers to the area of Education & Training for disadvantaged job-seekers, low paid workers and migrant workers with the following objective:
To empower disadvantaged job-seekers and low paid workers, (including Polish and Romanian migrant workers), in Ireland, Spain and Poland by providing them with the tools that will enable them to develop their capacity for flexible learning both in work and in training and so greatly increase their chances of successfully completing training and/or competing on the job market for employment and promotion.
The European technical group on Lifelong learning published its eight key competencies for Lifelong Learning in 2004. All member states are encouraged to develop theses competencies within their populaces in order to achieve the Lisbon agenda aim of making the EU a knowledge based society by 2010. There are eight key competencies, but one of these competencies underlies all of the others and without this the achievement of the others is impossible. This is the ability to ‘Learn to Learn’.
Although it is argued that the key competencies should be acquired by the end of 2nd level formal education, the reality for many educationally disadvantaged people is that this is not the case. Many individuals who have not completed second level education attempt to access vocational education and/or employment. However, in order for this group to access and successfully complete initial vocational training and for them develop a confidence and desire for lifelong learning as part of their working lives, it is necessary that they understand their own unique learning styles and their personal capacity for learning. For many, a lack of understanding and insight into how, why, where and when they learn may have contributed to a failure to successfully complete vocational education/training/employment in the past.
This project aims to take the outcomes from a previous Leonardo Project ‘CHOICES’ and to transfer the underlying knowledge gained during the project into the area of ‘Learning to Learn’. CHOICES developed an assessment centre specifically designed to meet the assessment, development and guidance needs of disadvantaged job seekers in the area of IT. The research element of the CHOICES project resulted in the development of a methodology suited to use with educationally disadvantaged job seekers and returners to education. The elements of this methodology included an academically sound foundation, an approach rooted in recognisable everyday tasks, interests, language and barriers, a commitment to the dignity of the users, a computer based interactive interface, and a proven face validity. This is the innovative methodology that the Know-how project will transfer into the realm of Learning to Learn. As Brookfield (2004) has suggested, ‘That learning to learn is a skill that exists far beyond academic boundaries is evident from the research conducted on practical intelligence and everyday cognition in settings and activities as diverse as grocery shopping and betting shops’. It is the link between how people learn from a practical intelligence and everyday cognition perspective and how they will learn in a academic setting that the project will explore.
The partnership of the project has been developed with specific partner roles in mind. Partners have either been chosen for expertise in particular areas including technical knowledge, psychological and educational knowledge or they have been chosen for their on-going work and knowledge of the target group.
The outcomes of this project will include a web based tool to enable the target group to gain insight into their own learning styles, preferences and capacities. A manual for those who work with this group, a nationally certified module at FETAC Level 3 available to participants, a research report outlining the underlying methodology and a pilot phase to confirm the validity of the tool. The tool will be translated into Polish for use with both Polish people living in Ireland and Polish people living in Poland and Germany and into Romanian for use with Romanian workers in Ireland and Germany. This will ensure that the innovative aspects of the CHOICES project are transferred not simply from the area of Guidance into the area of Learning to Learn, but that they are also transferred to a new national target group that of migrant workers.
The results of the project will impact on members of the target group by presenting them with the opportunity to develop an insight into their learning styles and preferences and by providing them with strategies for transferring this knowledge into the formal education and training arena including work based training. The results will also impact on those who work with educationally disadvantaged people in the areas of education and guidance by providing them with a tool to enable them to assist in identifying learning styles and the formulation of strategies that will exploit learning preferences. For those, in Ireland and Germany, who work with Polish and Romanian immigrants, it will provide a tool that clients can access in their own language.
The Lisbon agenda of making the EU the most competitive and dynamic knowledge based economy in the world capable of sustaining more and better jobs and with greater social cohesion (European Council, 2000)implies an emphasis on adult education and training both to train for work and to train while in work.
‘The importance of lifelong learning in Europe cannot be underestimated. Our economic performance increasingly depends on a highly skilled workforce, capable of adapting to new technologies and new ways of working (CEC, 2001, p.9) The current labour market demands a flexible workforce that can adapt to the changing demands of the economy and this entails workers becoming life long learners. This in turn implies an ability to learn in ever-changing contexts.
This project seeks to address the educational needs of educationally disadvantaged job seekers and low-paid workers. This group often have a very negative experience of learning in a formal setting and often doubt their own capacity to learn. This can discriminate against the individual’s chances of accessing employment, promotion or training in a fast changing world. Deficit theories of education have directly influenced the creation of compensatory educational models. ‘Adult education when understood as a place for people who not attend or failed school during their childhood, becomes a remedial model of adult education , which tries to compensate for a lack of knowledge. Adult learners are perceived as people with deficits and their experiential learning and actual motivations are not taken into account’. (Gallart, Unesco 2003). In response to deficit theories of education other researchers have explored the concepts of ‘Practical intelligence (Scribner, 19860 and cultural intelligence (CREA, 1995 – 98), demonstrating that everybody has the capacity to learn and has the capacity to learn in different contexts. Often this learning is done in an informal manner that if recognised can be transferred to academic contexts. Other influential educationalists specifically Paulo Freire have recognised that adult education needs to be rooted in the reality of the individual’s life and experience.
The Know-How project will develop a methodology to assist the target groups of disadvantaged job seekers and low-paid workers to gain an insight into their own learning styles and preferences based on an identification of their own prior informal and non-formal learning.
The target group has been highlighted as a priority group nationally in the National Development Plan 2007 – 201, under the following objective:
‘Provide those from disadvantaged backgrounds with education, skills and training necessary for employment and active participation in society’
and at a European level the High Level Group on the Lisbon Strategy have made it clear that ‘far from enough is being done in Europe to equip people with the tools they need to adapt to an evolving labour market’. A 2004 report by Cedefop suggests that by 2010 only 15% of newly created jobs will be suitable for people with only basic schooling. While Priority 6. Validation of non-formal and informal Learning in the call for proposals for the Lifelong Learning programme (European Commission, 2006). highlights the ‘Development of continuing vocational training and skills development for employees, including older employees, less qualified workers, and enhancement of the learning environment and organisation of learning at the workplace.
Ireland’s workforce has been swollen by a wave of migration from Eastern Europe. It is estimated that 11% of the Irish workforce is made up of migrant workers (FAS, March 2007). The majority group is from Poland, but since January there has been a significant rise in the migration of Romanian workers to Ireland with over 5,000 arrivals in the first two months of 2007, (FAS Quarterly Labour Market Commentary, first Quarter 2007) Although many of these new workers are English speaking and highly skilled, there exists a significant cohort who do not speak English and are not highly educated.( Polish Migrant Workers in Ireland, NCCRI, 2007) This project will target this group. This group is particularly vulnerable to exploitation within the labour market and the majority of all migrant workers earn significantly less than their Irish counterparts. ( FAS 2007)
This project will address priority 5 – validation of non-formal and informal learning by developing a tool to enable participants of the target groups to uncover their experiences of non-formal and informal learning and to utilise these to develop strategies for learning at an initial vocational training level and in the work place. The learning and outcomes of the project will be used as a basis for accrediting a ‘Learning to Learn’ award at FETAC Level 3
The project has eight tangible products:
1. Report outlining the transferability of the CHOICES concept and methodology to the area of Learning to Learn
2. Report: Key competencies: Learning to Learn – the importance of the development of the learning to learn competency in order to develop other key competencies`
3. Learning to Learn Task Analysis and Model: Manual and Diagrammatic Poster
4. Learning to Learn Tools: Learning styles assessment, motivation/barriers to learning assessment, learning aptitudes assessment
5. Learning to Learn Technical Framework and Web site www.knowhow2learn.net
6. Practitioner Manual and familiarisation/training instructions
7. Documentation: scientific and theoretical underpinnings to tools
8. Accredited Programme at FETAC Level 3 standard