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Lifelong learning and the new economy: limitations of a market model

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What kind of workplace has the so-called 'new economy' created? What problems are Canadian workers experiencing? How effective are Canada's lifelong learning policies that focus on high skills development for global competitiveness? These questions were explored as part of a three year research program. During the 2003-2004 academic year, using a grounded theory research method and working from a critical perspective, I asked these questions to 11 union organizers and staff representatives. During the 2004-2005 academic year, I interviewed seven academic adult educators and asked for their analysis of the issues raised by the Year 1 research participants, and for feedback on my analysis of the Year 1 data. Three interrelated 'work' themes emerged from the interviews with union workers: increased workload, job insecurity, and loss of job satisfaction. Because of the workplace problems associated with the so-called new economy, the research participants were highly critical of the current focus of lifelong learning. This article explores the work themes and their critique. Building on a worker perspective, this research questions the direction of current Canadian lifelong learning policies. It looks at the barriers adult educators encounter in trying to change these policies and suggests that, if change is to occur, Canadian adult educators must retake their place at the policy table.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Regina, Canada

Publication date: 2008-01-01

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