Lifelong learning: a national trade union strategy in a global economy
The paper considers the role of trade unions in lifelong learning, their strategic approach to lifelong learning, and the opportunities and limitations set by the current stage of globalized capitalist development. The paper has four sections, the first of which considers the relationship between 'modernization' as a trade union project and concepts such as reflexive modernity and risk society which have structured much debate in the social sciences in recent years. Secondly, there is a discussion of the exact nature of the role of trade unions in education and training. While it will be suggested that recent developments have greatly increased the scope of trade union involvement in education and training, the third section of the paper will argue that these developments do not represent a coherent strategy on the part of unions, but more a series of responses to the complexity of the contemporary workplace. Based on a theoretical interrogation of data from a number of empirical and policy document sources,1 the paper will argue that there is a need for conceptual clarity in this field. In the final section, the context of globalization will move to the foreground, in the context of a discussion on the relationship between national trade union policies and global capitalist development.