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Adult learning in the workplace

11/11/2019
por Marija Stošić
Idioma: EN

Regarding the continuous development of modern society, there are frequent requests for acquiring new and/or further knowledge, skills and abilities. Most often, these changes are conditioned by the development of techniques and technologies, that is, the conditions under which different social activities are performed, which result in higher productivity and quality assurance according to the quality standards dictated by the market in constant development.

On the other hand, there is a complete extinction of particular professionsthat is, the need for certain professions no longer exists, so that in order for a person or institution to assure himself or herself a further existence, he is forced to completely or partially change the activity according to the specifications of contemporary activities for which there is a real need.

 

The modern man, that is, the modern market, is looking for speed, quality and quantity. In order to achieve a monopoly in terms of competitiveness, that is, to create conditions for higher earnings, we are forced to constantly learn and develop competencies in business.

 

Adult learning in the workplace can be learning through personal experiences and job performance, learning through ongoing interaction among employees and sharing and learning through organizational forms of education provided by the employer or employee.

 

Learning through personal experience and job performance is the oldest method of learning with the most productive effect in terms of acquiring new knowledge, skills and abilities, but it often requires a considerable amount of time and slows down the learning process. So the employee gets a task that he or she needs to accomplish. In order to successfully perform it, or to arrive at a quality solution to the problem, the employee must come up with new information, that is, the new knowledge or independently develop personal skills and abilities. In this sense, he is forced to study independently, that is, to learn “by mistake” in a series of successive attempts. With the number of attempts, in terms of coming up with a quality solution for the task (problem), the employee's willingness to learn decreases, which can result in complete or partial dismissal, in the sense that the employee stays with one average answer to the problem.

 

Independent learning, on the other hand, requires the development of lifelong learning competencies, which until recently have not received significant attention during formal education, which in turn leads to difficulties in learning independently through personal experiences or job performance. In this sense, with the development of lifelong learning skills, the employee would be able to independently obtain the quality information that provides him with the new knowledge necessary for productive problem solving, that is, quality and efficient fulfillment of work obligations.

 

As special forms of learning, which stand out significantly in the sense that employees often resort to this process of self-learning through personal experiences at work, are emphasized distance learning and learning through following of special educational blogs and video tutorials, which are often used by employees on their own initiative. 

The special advantage of learning through personal experience or performing jobs is the durability of the acquired knowledge, skills and abilities, as well as the quality in terms of creating a significant basis necessary for further upgrading them, but also their productivity in practice.

 

One of the competencies that has been particularly and significantly valued in recent years by employees is the ability to cooperate and work in a team. In this connection, a special form of workplace learning stands out - learning through the exchange of personal knowledge and experience among employees.

 

Hiring more employees to do the same job creates an opportunity for greater interaction between them, and thus, better exchanges in terms of information sharing, but also transferring personal skills and abilities from one employee to another or from one team member to another through internal training. Given the structure of employees within an institution, it is logical to expect a balance in terms of education and professional skills, while differences in individual abilities, that is, acquired specific knowledge, abilities and skills which arise from non-formal and informal learning, that is, the individual's private life, his personal problems and the need to acquire certain knowledge, personal interests and the like. What is important about this internal learning and training is that everyone has one specific vocabulary, that is, language in use, that they can easily understand each other, which greatly facilitates the learning process. For example, when experts in a particular field, who are educated in the field of other sciences, are hired to train employees, the main obstruction in the quality transfer of knowledge and the development of the skills and abilities of the employee is the language in use, that is, the terminology used by experts in the field, which often makes even that which is easy and simple to be difficult and incomprehensible. Having in mind the psychology of an adult, in front of such an educator, an expert in the field, who, according to his education and unable to adapt to the requirements of the employee, the employee retires because he does not want to admit that he does not understand a certain spoken word or ask for additional clarifications. Further clarification, the employee may eventually ask his colleague at work, after training.

 

On the other hand, there is a factor of knowledge of the personality, that is, the connection between the employees that develops during the period of working together, as well as the fact that it is equally important for everyone to complete certain jobs as professionally and qualitatively as possible, and therefore more engaged in acquiring and transferring new knowledge, skills and abilities, while in terms of hiring an expert these factors do not exist. On the one hand, an expert is conditioned by the time period within which he or she must realize the training of the employee, and on the other hand, it is not personally reflected and has no influence on him whether or not he has successfully completed the training of an employee to perform a particular job.

 

Organizational forms of education provided by the employer or employee include professional forums, lectures, seminars, conferences ... They are often organized outside the institution and require additional costs for the employee or institution.

 

Lectures are an organizational form of employee education that takes place in frontal work, and involves a group of up to 25 employees. In the form of lectures, educators transfer some knowledge through presentation of content to the employee with possible feedback in the form of conversations.

 

Seminars are an organizational form of education based on employee knowledge, which is corrected, expanded and deepened during training programs. The number of employees in a group of students varies from 15 to 30 depending on the profession for which they are intended.

 

Training is a specially designed employee training program dominated by practical work, exercise and repetition, with the aim of successfully developing the skills and competences of the employee. The number of participants in the group varies from 12 to 20 employees.

 

Coaching is an organizational form of employee education aimed at developing concrete skills for effective problem solving, pursuing professional interest and improving work performance, and is carried out through significant productive interactions and exchanges between "couches" and employees. In order to achieve greater interaction, the number of participants is small and varies from 1 to 8 employees in the group.

 

The course aims to acquire new and improve the employee's existing competencies. Throughout the course, the emphasis is put on practicing and applying the knowledge and skills of each student, that in this case the number of participants is small and varies from 8 to 15 employees in the group. It is most often applied in terms of developing practical skills, that is, the personal knowledge of each individual (working on a computer, learning a foreign language, etc.).

 

Conferences involve the form of meetings between delegates of professional and scientific organizations and institutions, with the aim of exchanging knowledge and acquired experience and skills in the framework of a predefined issue. During the conference, delegates have the opportunity to express their personal attitudes and to represent them in an argumentative way by stating specific facts and information that they have obtained through engaging in their professional practice, with the aim of seeking a common solution to current topics, that is, identified problems in the field of professional activity. The conferences bring together 30 to 70 delegates within a single group, that is, a defined topic, and the overall number can be far greater.

 

Study visits are aimed at exchanging knowledge, experience and acquired skills through good examples of professional activity, individuals or institutions, organized in other cities or countries. In doing so, the number of delegates can vary from individual to group of employees, or 10 to 25 employees in the final number.

 

Workshops are also one of the significant organizational forms of employee education in the workplace, and relate to enhancing an employee's existing knowledge and skills by engaging in specific tasks or activities. According to the basic objective, they can be:

 

- creative workshops (encouraging and developing the creativity of the employee in the search for quality solutions for certain tasks),

- workshops aimed at developing social skills (nonviolent problem solving and overcoming conflicts, conducting dialogues, skills of argumentative representation of personal views and courts, that is, debating, etc.),

- educational workshops (developing lifelong learning skills, instigate of cognitive level and learning, gaining new knowledge),

- psychological workshops (developing self-awareness, training to overcome stress in the workplace, self-regulation regarding expressing personal feelings and reacting in given situations...).

 

The number of employees in the workshops varies from 10 to 25 employees in the group.

 

Apprenticeships and mentoring are the most common form of employee learning, in the sense that it is legally and / or personally supported in many institutions, both in the public and private sectors. Through apprenticeships, the employee acquires knowledge and experience, that is, develops the skills necessary for the independent performance of the job for which he or she is hired, based on established training programs. The trainee is guided through the training program by a selected mentor, who has the necessary qualifications in terms of mentoring - expertise in performing a professional activity and the ability to transfer personal knowledge and experiences, or the ability to teach.

 

Considering the above mentioned forms of employee learning in the workplace, it can be concluded that the best effect is achieved through a combination of several of these forms. Assisted forms of self-directed learning, mutual collaboration and exchange of employee experiences and organizational forms of training will achieve the best effect in terms of employee education in the workplace.

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