WORKTOW was a multidisciplinary action research project carried out in 27 SMEs in industry, service and office-work sectors in the UK, Finland and Norway. The aims were to investigate how to recognise, value and utilise job competence; aspects of learning at work; HRD practices involving older workers and the facilitation of lifelong learning; and how the diversity of the workforce can facilitate the development of learning organisations. In-depth case studies were carried out in all three countries involving a range of learning interventions. Results showed that age was not related to how stimulating workplaces were experienced as learning environments, nor to the subjective assessment of learning attitudes, skills, or motivation, except for memory and speed of learning. Stronger variation was found between sectors and companies. The job competence of older workers was generally highly valued although it was not systematically monitored or recorded. Changes in working life and in the organisation of the workplace tended to reduce opportunities for learning for all age groups. The introduction of IT was the greatest learning challenge to older employees but this was not universal. In some cases of small businesses older workers, especially those with higher levels of education and expertise, did not find their work as stimulating in terms of new learning as their less experienced colleagues did. Coupled with scarce career opportunities, this situation sometimes led to estimations of low value and meaningfulness attached to training related to one�s current job. In terms of HRD, older employees participated less than younger colleagues in formal training within industry but there were no differences in participation in informal and non-formal training and in service and information sector.
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Record Number: 6621 / Last updated on: 2005-01-13