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Older workers in the hospitality industry: valuing experience and informal learning

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The research sets out to identify the learning processes adopted by older workers in the hospitality and visitor attraction industry in Scotland, with a view to determining how employers may better support their education and training within enterprises. The study was undertaken as part of the ESRC project on ‘Sustaining the employability of older workers in the hospitality sector: personal learning strategies and cultures of learning’. The data collection period was from 2008–2010 and focused on six case studies; three in hospitality and three visitor attraction centres. The conceptual framework of the research is based upon the simple yet important notion of experience and how this enhances the learning lives of older employees. It will be argued that the learning processes used by older employees are primarily recognisable as social practices, based upon the utilisation of existing knowledge and skills. The analysis suggests that organisations should be encouraged to avoid using a ‘one size fits all’ approach to education and training and, in the case of older workers, to make more use of their past work and life experiences in order to facilitate their own and others’ learning.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Stirling, UK

Publication date: 2011-10-01

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