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Talking about Work Related-Learning and Career Guidance. In dialogue with the International Centre of Guidance Studies
di Carmen Colangelo   


Nell’epoca del cambiamento continuo, l’incertezza e l’instabilità del lavoro divengono caratteristiche sistemiche che rendono evidente l’avvenuto passaggio dalla società del lavoro alla società dei lavori.


L’autorevole analisi di Bauman sulla modernità liquida fa emergere la natura mutevole di un lavoro che ha perso il suo ruolo centrale e “can no longer offer the secure axis around which to wrap and fix self-definitions, identities and life-projects” (Bauman, 2000, p. 139).

Infatti, la crescita impetuosa delle nuove conoscenze e la velocità con cui le abilità acquisite perdono di valore, richiedono non solo di reinventarsi e aggiornare le proprie competenze, ma anche di esercitare la flessibilità cognitiva, la capacità di formarsi permanentemente, le competenze funzionali a gestire le proprie carriere nel tempo. Tale sfida educativa chiama in causa una “pedagogy of work, [that] in collaboration with other sciences, has to face the difficult gamble, on the one hand, to teach young generations a new culture of work and of career construction, in terms of scenarios, knowledge, expertise; on the other, to teach adults to reconstruct and to enhance their own project of professional development, between stasis and change” (Dato, 2016, p. 339).

Nell’attuale scenario socio-economico, la necessità di innalzare il tasso di occupazione richiede di favorire processi di employability e di sostenere le transizioni delle persone, nonché di definire adeguate misure e dispositivi per rafforzare la relazione tra mondo della formazione e mondo del lavoro.

La diffusione di modalità di Work Related-Learning è al centro delle più recenti indicazioni europee in materia di istruzione e formazione (European Commission, 2012). Le attività di apprendimento work-related sono state definite come “planned activity designed to use the context of work to develop knowledge, skills and understanding useful in work, including learning through the experience of work, learning about work and working practices and learning the skills for work” (Huddleston, Prue, 2012).

Numerosi studi internazionali condotti su esperienze di WRL hanno dimostrato il valore dell’integrazione tra apprendimento e lavoro nell’incrementare soprattutto competenze orientative o career mangement skills (CMS), l’insieme delle competenze indispensabili agli individui per sviluppare e gestire effettivamente la loro carriera (Neary, Dodd, Hooley, 2015). Inoltre, proprio pratiche di orientamento permanente di qualità possono a loro volta sostenere esperienze positive di apprendimento basato sul lavoro favorendo un positivo sviluppo dell’identità professionale e delle career management skills (Borbély-Pecze, Hutchinson, 2014).

L’attenzione data a livello internazionale allo studio delle competenze oltre la scuola (OECD, 2014) apre ad un ampia riflessione sulla direzione intrapresa dal sistema di istruzione e formazione italiano.

La legge 13 luglio 2015, n.107, recante Riforma del sistema nazionale di istruzione e formazione e delega per il riordino delle disposizioni legislative vigenti, valorizza il carattere relazionale e situato dell’apprendimento rompendo l’attuale cultura scuolacentrica, l’organizzazione didattica basata sulla suddivisione disciplinare dei saperi e la logica consequenziale teoria-prassi. L’alternanza scuola-lavoro, si legge nell’art. 1 comma 33, viene predisposta “al fine di incrementare le opportunità di lavoro e le capacità di orientamento degli studenti”. Ciò implica per la scuola rinnovare la collaborazione formativa con il territorio e con le imprese non implementando esperienze meramente professionalizzanti, bensì promuovendo la valenza orientativa dei percorsi di alternanza scuola-lavoro alla luce dei più intrinseci fini educativi dell'attività lavorativa.

Ma quali sono le possibili azioni e strategie? Come far sì che le esperienze di alternanza scuola-lavoro favoriscano l’employability dei giovani e lo sviluppo delle CMS?

Ci offre un fondamentale contributo in tal senso Nicki Moore, Senior lecture in Career Development presso l’ International Centre of Guidance Studies (iCeGS) dell’Università di Derby.

L’ iCeGS ha una particolare competenza nel campo dell’orientamento e nello sviluppo della carriera. Le attività di ricerca nazionali ed internazionali del centro hanno evidenziato che le attività di career education nelle scuole e buoni programmi di WRL promuovono il successo formativo e possono aiutare i giovani nella transizione verso il mercato del lavoro e percorsi di carriera gratificanti.

Nell’auspicio che il dialogo con interlocutori internazionale privilegiati possa consentire una più ampia riflessione sul tema, ringrazio il team dell’iCeGS per l’accoglienza riservatami durante il periodo di PhD visiting.


Bibliografia


Bauman, Z. (2000). Liquid Modernity, Polity: Cambridge.

Borbély-Pecze, T.B. & Hutchinson, J. (2014). Work-Based Learning and Lifelong Guidance Policies (ELGPN Concept Note No. 5). Jyväskylä, Finland: ELGPN.

Dato, D. (2016). To Orient at Work and Towards Employment: A Difficult Challenge for the Pedagogy of Work, Journal of Modern Education Review, USA June 2016, Volume 6, No. 6, pp. 398–408.

European Commission (2012). Vocational education and training for better skills, growth and jobs Accompanying the document Communication from the Commission Rethinking Education: Investing in skills for better socio-economic outcomes. Disponibile in: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:52012SC0375 [18 aprile 2017].

Huddleston, P. & Stanley, J. (cur. 2012). Work-Related Teaching and Learning: A Guide for Teachers and Practitioners. NY: Routledge.

Neary, S., Dodd, V. & Hooley, T. (2015). Understanding Career Management Skills: Findings From the First Phase of the CMS Leader Project. Derby: International Centre for Guidance Studies, University of Derby.

OECD (2014). Skills Beyond School: Synthesis Report. OECD Reviews of Vocational Education and Training. OECD Publishing. Disponibile in: http//dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264214682-en [18 aprile 2017].




Q: In the Age of works, can WRL programmes promote career guidance?

A1: I think the answer to this question is a definite “yes”. Many young people have no direct experience of the world of work. Young people's views of work can often develop in response to the images and information which they see on the television, online and through social media and through family and friends. These information sources can be un-mediated and give unrealistic views or in some cases very stereotyped views of work places and jobs. If young people are making important career decisions based on information derived in this way then they can make decisions which lead to poor and un-sustainable transitions. In other words good quality WRL provides a context for career decision making.


Q: How can WRL programmes promote career guidance? Which are the most effective strategies?

A: We also know that direct experience of the work place can help young people to develop then necessary networks to secure jobs. This is sometimes referred to as career or social capital. WRL can also provide young people with good role models and help them to understand the demands and expectations of the work place so that they are more prepared to enter work.

What is interesting about WRL is that the impact of this can often be affected by the way a school delivers this. Where for example schools expect the pupils to seek out their own work-experience placements those young people who have good support from professional parents will often secure good placements which can lead to improved networks and good social/ career capital. Where young people come from poor or disadvantaged backgrounds whose parents have no work and poor contacts, this kind of expectation on students to find their own placements can actually reinforce social-inequality.

We also know that where students are well prepared for wok experience and have personal learning targets this can lead to very successful experiences where young people develop resilience and maturity. Where schools do not work to prepare students the placements are often less effective.

In terms of WRL promoting career guidance I think that young people who experience a well organised programme of work-experience which is supported by other types of employer engagement activity such as CV preparation and interview practice as part of the programme they are more likely to engage with their career and other lessons, make the connection between their lessons and the work place and may seek out career conversations with a range of people including teachers, career guidance practitioners, parents, peers and employers.

WRL activities also provide teachers an opportunity to promote career guidance in a positive light and therefore I guess young people may become more aware of the service and are therefore more likely to access it.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI, 2014) recognise the importance of work-experience in helping provide young people with the skills which employers seek and a more realistic approach to career decision making and in so doing ensures that their aspirations better fit with the skills requirements for national economic growth. The CBI note that “education is about helping young people understand the world around them and develop the capabilities and approaches that will help them make their way in it” (CBI, 2014, p. 3). This includes developing work-readiness a concept often described more regularly as developing employability skills.


Q: What are WRL programmes in UK Educational System?

A: The Sub-Committee on Education, Skills and the Economy (House of Commons, 2016) noted that whilst previous models of work experience at KS4 were not always effective in delivering meaningful experiences of the work place nevertheless, “all students should have the opportunity to take part in work experience at both Key Stage 4 and Key Stage 5” (House of Commons, p. 27). This observation resulted in a recommendation to government: “We recommend that the Government work with employers and schools to produce a plan to ensure that all students at Key Stage 4 [This is aged 14-15] have the opportunity to take part in meaningful work experience. It should also ensure that there are mechanisms in place to ensure that work experience is being effectively delivered through Key Stage 5 study plans” (House of Commons, 2016, p. 27).

Whilst this recommendation falls short of re-instating the duty placed on schools to deliver work experience as a statutory part of the curriculum it does indicate that there is a shift in policy which recognises the importance of work-related learning. Recent non-statutory advice from the Department of Education (DFE) references Wolf’s recommendations and notes specifically that all young people between the ages of 16 and 23 should be able to gain real experience and knowledge of the workplace to enhance their employability skills. They advise all providers of education for young people in this age group to make available high quality work experience as part of all academic and vocational study programmes and traineeships. (DFE, 2016).

“Work experience should be an integral part of most students’ study programme and in particular for students choosing to enter a particular occupation or profession or those taking a technical route to achieve their career aim” (DFE, 2016, p. 9).

Whilst this guidance is described as non-statutory it is clear from the language used (post-16 programmes of study should normally include) that there is an expectation that young people will have access to opportunities for work experience (described as work tasters, participation in social action projects, or a work placement) and is a condition of funding for post-16 study programmes.


Q: What are best practices?

A: Since the delivery of WRL became a statutory duty in 2004, there have been several attempts to set out what good quality WRL should comprise (Department for Education and Skills, 2003; Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, 2008). These attempts have focused on describing the learning outcomes associated with WRL or provide guidance on processes which are needed to support it.

Guidance by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF, 2008) set out the systems and processes required to implement the then statutory requirements for WRL including the need to:

•             appoint a senior leader with responsibility for WRL;

•             identify a member of staff with responsibility for coordinating work-related provision;

•             allocate time for the in-service training of members of staff;

•             review and update a current work-related learning policy, including learning opportunities and outcomes;,

•             ensure that work-related learning is included in the school development plan;

•             hold strategic conversations with local business leaders, employers and partners about their roles in supporting the provision of WRL;

•             ensure that young people are safe whilst on work-based activities;

•             develop an understanding of where elements of WRL take place within the curriculum.

•             identify individual learning needs, learning outcomes and learner achievement;

•             ensure appropriate value for money.

•             establish clear quality standards for managing, evaluating and reviewing employer involvement;

•             have systems in place to manage relationships with external providers and partners.

The Gatsby Charitable Foundation (2014) developed a series of benchmarks to exemplify good practice in career guidance in schools. The Benchmarks indicate that good career guidance needs to include opportunities for young people to participate in at least one meaningful encounter with an employer from age 11 to learn about the world of work (Benchmark 5: Encounters with employers and employees). Gatsby define the term “meaningful” as “one in which the student has an opportunity to learn about what work is like or what it takes to be successful in the work place” (Gatsby Charitable Foundation, 2014, p. 24). Gatsby describe a range of work-related activities which expose young people to employers and employees such as through visiting speakers, careers fairs, enterprise events, work simulations, mentoring, mock interviews and CV writing and events such as ‘speed dating’ which involve young people and employers interacting in multiple, short encounters generally as part of a careers fair or recruitment event (Gatsby Charitable Foundation, 2014, p. 25).

Gatsby note a distinction between this Benchmark and that requiring schools to provide direct experiences of the workplace (Benchmark 6). They suggest that by the age of 16 all young people should have at least one experience of a work place (in addition to any part time work they might have). In their description of experiences of the work place, Gatsby include work visits, work shadowing and/or work experience. They recommend that a further experience should take place between the ages of 16 and 18. The Gatsby Benchmarks provide a description of the amount and nature of work-related activity which will support young people’s career development.


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