Materials for Teaching, Research and Policy Making

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KEY WORDS: Activism; Adult Education; Communication Skills; Computer Assisted Instruction; Computer Attitudes; Computer Literacy; Developed Nations; Educational Research; Foreign Countries; Informal Education; Interaction; Labor Education; Online Courses; Online Systems; Telecommunications; Unions; Working Class; Workshops.

Sawchuk, P. (2001). The final report of the "learning capacities in the community and workplace project": Unioned industrial workplace site (Ontario). NALL Working Paper No. 45. Toronto: Centre for the Study of Education and Work, OISE/UT. Available at:

The Ontario Industrial Workers' research site offered a basic analysis of issues relevant to the Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) research and the labor education community. Project goals revolved around the need to examine development and applications of a new PLAR instrument, the Skills and Knowledge Profile (SKP), which is uniquely suited to examine the types of strategies, practices, and capacities that working class participants typically use. Primarily qualitative data from interviews were analyzed. SKP exhibited "situated" dimensions which, from a worker's standpoint, largely determined the perceived effectiveness of the instrument. Social organization of skills, knowledge, and learning processes were seen as a significant issue in the context of working class learning strategies, workers' practices, and progressive application of PLAR instruments such as SKP. In discussions of PLAR, SKP, and labor unions, notions of class consciousness were intertwined with informal learning relations. Intersection of class consciousness and development of critical views on the power relations among forms and conceptions of skill and knowledge led to the notion of a Workers' Knowledge Bank. In in-depth discussions, workers indicated the practical use/value was embedded within the process of administration itself and SKP provoked new understandings of one's own skills.
KEY WORDS: Adult Education; Developed Nations; Foreign Countries; Industrial Training; Informal Education; Labor Education; Learning Strategies; Participatory Research; Prior Learning; Self Evaluation (Individuals); Social Cognition; Test Construction; Unions; Working Class; Ontario (Toronto).

Sawchuk, P. H. (2003). The 'unionization effect' among adult computer learners. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 24(5), 637-648.

Findings from qualitative & quantitative research in Canada are combined to explore the links between adult participation in progressive trade unionism & patterns of learning. Progressive trade unionism is defined partially by an organization's commitment to member education & the effective 'buffering' of supervisory discipline within the labor process. With a focus on computer learning specifically, the data suggest that involvement in such organizations & community formations encourages different subjective appreciation for learning & education, more effective informal learning practice, as well as greater access to material resources & greater involvement in formalized courses. Informal learning networks among manufacturing workers are described comparatively. Central to this effect is the formation of a proletarian public sphere articulated by culturally & materially stable forms of class-based community.
KEY WORDS: Unionization; Adult Education; Learning; Computers; Industrial Workers; Ontario.

Scully-Russ, E. (2006). Learning to organize: US unions, work, and learning. Journal of Workplace Learning, 18(7), 522-534.

The paper finds that vocational education in US industrial unions is a negotiated benefit aimed at meeting the instrumental needs of individual union members. The evolution of this model was inevitable given the US labor relations context within which it emerged. However, significant changes in US political economy call for a new model of vocational education in unions. Rather than learning as a service, Learning to Organize challenges unions to put learning in service of the broader, collective aim of renewed labor power.
KEY WORDS: Unions and Learning; Research paper; Vocational education; USA.

Smith, D. E., & Dobson, S. (2003). Storing and transmitting skills: The expropriation of working class control. NALL Working Paper No. 71. Toronto: Centre for the Study of Education and Work, OISE/UT. Available at:

This monograph comes out of a study that proposed to explore the relationships between the great working-class communities and the industries they both sustained and were sustained by in terms of the production, storage and transmission of skills. Among men so-called "manual skills" were learned in part experientially, on-the-job, but they were also learned intergenerationally, both in the community and in the workplace. The last twenty or thirty years of economic reorganization is shown to have radically undermined the engine of skills storage and transmission vested in a social organization among working class men intersecting workplace and community. This paper is based in part on the ethnographic literature on industrial workplaces and the working class communities associated with them and in part on interviews with eight steelworkers employed at Stelco in Hamilton, Ontario. All but two of these started work at Stelco in the 1970s (the exceptions started in the late 1960s); all are still employed at the plant though three are also on the staff of Local 1005 of the United Steelworkers. (From Introduction).
KEY WORDS: Adult Learning; Case Studies; Employer Employee Relationship; Employment Practices; Ethnography; Experiential Learning; Industrial Training; Job Skills; Labor Force Development; Labor Relations; Nonformal Education; Organizational Change; Sex Role; Trade and Industrial Education; Training; Vocational Adjustment; Work Environment; Working Class.

Spencer, B. (2002). Unions and learning in a global economy: International and comparative perspectives. Toronto: Thomson Educational.

Labour education is one of the most important forms of adult education, and in many countries it attracts more participants than any other form of non-vocational adult education. But it is also a field that is often under-reported in discussions about adult learning, labour relations or generally in discussions about the role of unions in society.

With contributions from eight different countries, this is the first book to offer international and comparative perspectives on labour education. It provides context, discusses issues and examples, and reports on new initiatives, programming and courses. The authors are leading labour and adult educators and all have union and labour relations backgrounds.

This book will be of special interest to labour educators, union officials and members; and those working in the field of industrial relations and applied economics. Students of adult education will draw from it a deeper understanding of the contribution of labour education and the role it will continue to play in the twenty-first century.
KEY WORDS: Labor Unions; Labour Education; Adult Education; Globalization.
Stuart, M., & Wallis, E. (2007). Partnership approaches to learning: A seven-country study. European Journal of Industrial Relations, 13(3), 301-321.
This article explores the role of trade unions in innovative learning partnerships. Formal framework partnerships suffer from implementation problems and a lack of focus on worker needs, in contrast to local learning partnerships that address the specific interests of workers displaced through restructuring. The key challenges facing unions are the types of skills addressed, coordination issues across learning partnerships and building the union skills needed to work in partnership.
KEY WORDS: Unions and Learning; Employability; Learning Partnerships; Neo-corporatism; Trade Union Capacity.

Tanner, J., Davies, S., & O’Grady, B. (1999). Whatever happened to yesterday’s rebels? NALL Working Paper No. 5. Toronto: Centre for the Study of Education and Work, OISE/UT. Available at:

This paper examines whether and how teen delinquency is consequential for a variety of educational and employment outcomes. From the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth we measure five forms of delinquency from 1979 when respondents were 14-17 years old, and investigate whether they predict five different outcomes when those individuals were aged 25-30. We measure delinquency as the prevalence of skipping school, drug use, violent behavior, engaging in property crime, and contact with the criminal justice system. Using a variety of regression models, we explore whether delinquency has negative zero-order effects, and negative partial effects net of standard status attainment variables. We find that all types of delinquency have consistently significant and negative impacts on educational attainment among both males and females, net of status attainment variables. Delinquency has also a fairly consistent impact on male occupational outcomes, but has weaker effects on female occupational outcomes. Overall, the data suggests that delinquency has autonomous and negative effects on later life chances. We discuss these findings in light of links between Status Attainment models and theories of crime and delinquency. (Author's Abstract).
KEY WORDS: At Risk Persons; Crime; Delinquency; Educational Attainment; Employment Level; Employment Patterns; Literature Reviews; Longitudinal Studies; Sex Differences; Social Indicators; Social Influences; Social Theories; Theory Practice Relationship; Trend Analysis; Youth Problems; Youth Programs; Impact Studies; National Longitudinal Survey of Youth; Status Attainment.

Taylor, J. (2001). Union learning: Canadian labour education in the twentieth century. Toronto: Thompson Educational.

Over 100,000 Canadian workers participate annually in educational programs conducted by their union or the broader labour organizations to which their union belongs. Union-based education is the most significant nonvocational education available to working people. This activity has been going on for decades, and Jeffery Taylor's Union Learning: Canadian Labour Education in the Twentieth Century is the first comprehensive history of it. Union Learning chronicles the rise and decline of the Workers' Educational Association, the development of internal union educational programs, the consolidation of the Canadian Labour Congress's educational system after 1956, the origin and growth of the Labour College of Canada, and the patchy history of university and college involvement in labour education. Taylor argues that a new emphasis on broad-based and activist education today promises to rekindle the sense of an educational movement that was present in the labour movement in the 1930s and 1940s.
KEY WORDS: Labor Unions; Education; Canada; History; Working Class.

Wallerstein, M. (2000). Unions in decline? What has changed and why. Annual Review of Political Science, 3, 355-377.

From 1950 to 1980, labor markets grew increasingly organized in advanced industrial societies. Union membership in most countries expanded at a faster rate than the labor force, centralized wage setting became more common, and union members became increasingly concentrated in a small number of large unions. From 1980 to 1992, however, union density fell on average, and centralized wage setting became rare. Only union concentration increased in the 1980s. Existing theories of union organization and collective bargaining institutions are largely explain both the trends over time and much of the cross-national variation from 1950 to 1980, but they fail to account for the dramatic declines in union strength that some (but not all) countries have experienced since 1980.
KEY WORDS: Unions; Labour; Globalization.
Wills, J. (2003). Geographies of organised labour: The reinvention of trade unionism in millenial Britain. Swindon: Economic and Social Research Council.
The British trade union movement is at a cross-roads and this fellowship research seeks to map current and future developments. After two decades of decline British unions are refocusing on organising, seeking workplace renewal through local activism and/or partnership agreements with employers. Taking a geographical perspective, this research will explore the extent to which these new developments vary across Britain and the implications this has for the trade union movement, employers and the national economy. Moreover, by undertaking qualitative research into union renewal in particular places, this fellowship will look at the degree to which new unionism and partnership complement and/or contradict one another in practice. The British trade unions have recognised the need to change their cultures and structures of organisation if they are to survive into the next millennium: this research is designed to chart their progress in this endeavour.
KEY WORDS: Trade Union; British Trade Union Movement; Union Renewal; Activism; Partnership; Employers; Geographical Perspective.

Worthen, H., & Haynes, A. (2003). Getting in: The experience of minority graduates of the building bridges project pre-apprenticeship class. Labor Studies Journal, 28(1), 31-52.

The Chicago-area Building Bridges Project is a cooperative effort involving construction trades unions, churches in minority communities, & the Chicago Interfaith Committee. Goals of the project are to increase awareness of union apprenticeship programs in minority communities, broaden access to those programs, & organize construction work in these same communities. This study focuses on the experience of graduates of the Building Bridges Project preapprenticeship class as they apply to apprenticeship programs. It reports the ongoing negotiations among partners in the project as they identify, explain, &, in some cases, address factors that emerge as barriers to access to those programs. It argues that the key factor in the success of the project is that it is guided by the primary goal of organizing.
KEY WORDS: Chicago, Illinois; Apprenticeships; Minority Groups; Unions; Community Involvement; Access; Outreach Programs; Graduates; Construction Industry.

Zeitlin, M., & Weyher, L. F. (2001). "Black and white, unite and fight": Interracial working-class solidarity and racial employment equality. American Journal of Sociology, 107(2), 430-467.

How do the policies & practices of rival workers' organizations affect the level of racial inequality under advanced capitalism? This article addresses this theoretical question by assessing how the interracial unions of the Congress of Industrial Organizations, as opposed to the racially exclusionist affiliates of the American Federation of Labor, affected the level of employment equality between black & white workers during the 1940s. The study finds that in the 37 non-southern states, & especially in the 15 highly unionized states, the stronger the CIO unions were, the more equal were the reductions in the unemployment rates of white & black workers, 1940-1950.
KEY WORDS: Unions; Unemployment Rates; Black White Differences; Social Inequality; Working Class; United States of America; Black White Relations.

Section 4.8

School-to-Work Transitions

Ahier, J., Chaplain, R., Linfield, R., Moore, R., & Williams, J. (2000). School work experience: Young people and the labour market. Journal of Education and Work, 13(3), 273-288.

Interviews with 139 secondary teachers, 60 students, and 32 employers showed that employers provided work experience for public relations and recruitment purposes. Teachers felt students developed skills and experience of the world of work. Students gained skills and information and were able to sample jobs. Distinctions between structural and attitudinal limitations on work experience were identified.
KEY WORDS: Economic Change; Foreign Countries; Secondary Education; Skill Development; Student Employment; Work Experience England.

Audas, R., Berde, E., & Dolton, P. (2005). Youth unemployment and labour market transitions in Hungary. Education Economics, 13(1), 1-25.

Unemployment and labour market adjustment have featured prominently in the problems of transitional economies. However, the position of young people and their transitions from school to work in these new market economies has been virtually ignored. This paper examines a new large longitudinal data set relating to young people in Hungary over the period 1994-98. Using data on each individual's labour market state over 4 years we estimate a panel econometric model that explicitly allows for duration dependence and individual unobserved heterogeneity to capture the diversity of initial conditions faced by these young people in the labour market. In modeling the education and employment decisions in the transition from school to work we find strong evidence of the importance of individuals making good initial career decisions and an enduring effect of academic achievement on labour market and education outcomes.
KEY WORDS: Foreign Countries; Young Adults; Youth Employment; Unemployment; Labor Market; Education Work Relationship; Academic Achievement; Longitudinal Studies.

Billett, S. (2006). Informing post-school pathways: Investigating school students' authentic work experiences. Adelaide, AU: National Centre for Vocational Education Research.

This report studies career decision-making and further education pathways, focusing on the way school students understand work through their paid part-time work and participation in school-based apprenticeships and the potential this has inform to inform such decisions. Through classroom-based interventions this project sought to aid students' and teachers' understandings of what the author describes as 'authentic' work experiences. The role of the school and teachers in preparing students for vocational outcomes raises many issues, including the support and skills required to facilitate discussion and activities on the realities of the working world. Reflection upon work experiences, when directed effectively by teachers, is useful in helping students critically appraise work conditions beyond school and post school pathways.
KEY WORDS: Careers; Pathways; School-to-Work Transition; Learner Groups; Apprentices; Trainees; Students; Formal Schooling.

Brown, D. (2000). Theory and school-to-work transition: Are the recommendations suitable for cultural minorities? Career Development Quarterly, 48(4), 370-375.

Argues that while the special June 1999 issue of "The Career Development Quarterly" that dealt with school-to-work transitions was an admirable attempt to link theory to practice, both the theories used and practices suggested failed to take into account the special concerns of cultural minorities. Provides suggestions for improving theory and practice to make them more culturally sensitive.
KEY WORDS: Career Development; Culturally Relevant Education; Education Work Relationship; Minority Groups; Student Needs; Theory Practice Relationship.

Cabral-Cardoso, C. J. (2001). Too academic to get a proper job? The difficult transition of PhDs to the "real world" of industry. Career Development International, 6(4), 212-217.

In this paper, responses from more than 1,100 Portuguese doctoral students and Ph.D. graduates in science and technology indicated that 79% preferred jobs in academia; 70% wanted primarily research and development (R&D), but only 45% wanted industrial R&D. They generally feel overqualified for most jobs in industry and anticipate a difficult adjustment to that environment.
KEY WORDS: Doctoral Degrees; Education Work Relationship; Foreign Countries; Industry; Occupational Aspiration; Research and Development; Scientists; Vocational Adjustment.

Canny, A. (2001). Researching the transition from school to work: A comparative perspective. The Journal of Social Welfare & Family Law, 23(3), 363-372.

This article presents findings from a comparative study that examined English & Irish adolescents' transition from school to work.The article presents an overview of the context in which the study was performed, emphasizing the fluctuations in the Irish & English labor markets since the mid-1980s & their effects upon employment patterns for Irish & English young people. Data collected from the English & Irish Labour Force Surveys from 1988 through 1997 were analyzed to illustrate the school-to-work transition of young people in both nations; in addition, interviews (N = 46 total) with personnel directors, employer & employee representatives, youth organizers, & policy officials were conducted. The study revealed that high levels of English & Irish students are remaining in post-compulsory education; however, a substantially larger percentage of English students ages 16-19 were attending school full time while maintaining full-time jobs. It is concluded that young people who have left the educational system early in either nation should return to school in order to take advantage of new developments in both labor markets.
KEY WORDS: England; Ireland; Life Stage Transitions; Labor Market; Adolescents; Youth Employment; Education Work Relationship; Work and Learning.

Canny, A. (2004). What employers want and what employers do: Cumbrian employers' recruitment, assessment and provision of education/learning opportunities for their young workers. Journal of Education and Work, 17(4), 495-513.

This article is based upon research which examined the youth labour market in Cumbria, a predominantly rural labour market located in north-west England. It argues that individual and structural considerations must be extended to incorporate employer behaviour and attitudes towards young men and women. Employers' assessment of young people's skills; their willingness to consider both young males and females for jobs; and the extent to which they are prepared through education/training to address skill gaps and/or enhance career opportunities, can have significant implications for young people's labour market opportunities. While these issues affect all young people, those living in restricted rural labour markets can face particular difficulties. Those who have poor social networks are at risk of marginalisation and/or exclusion because rural employers rely almost exclusively upon local labour that is recruited through a mix of local formal and informal networks. Therefore young people's ability and/or willingness to seek opportunities outside their local area is an important consideration. While employed young people are concentrated in relatively low-skilled jobs, the extent to which they have access to formal career and education/training opportunities is dependent upon the size and profile of local employers. There are also significant inter-county differences in the type of employment opportunities available to young people. Young people in west Cumbria, especially males, are reliant upon a declining manufacturing sector. Movement into service sector employment is likely to prove difficult because of the type of skills being demanded by employers. The findings suggest that young males knowledge and understanding of labour market change are issues that may need attention. However, there may be a reluctance and/or bias on the part of some local employers to recruit young men because they are not considered to have the requisite skills.
KEY WORDS: Foreign Countries; Employment Opportunities; Social Networks; Males; Manufacturing; Labor Market; Educational Opportunities; Education Work Relationship; Rural Areas; Employer Attitudes.

Charumbira, R. (2003). "I am definitely not leaving without a degree": A view from the crossroads of informal and formal learning — The transitional year program at the university of Toronto. NALL Working Paper No. 73. Toronto: Centre for the Study of Education and Work, OISE/UT. Available at:

Through a blending of statistics, reflections and narratives this report examines the vitality of informal learning and formal learning when these two consciously and simultaneously occur.

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