Theme 3: Workplace learning

Nowadays organizations are dealing with a variety of challenges. Insights and knowledge evolves very quickly and there are continuous technological innovations. In this respect, more than before, human capital is the main asset of organizations. Given the dynamic environment of organizations, investment in human capital implies a strategic approach of supporting learning at the workplace, from the beginning onwards (e.g. internships). The thematic group ‘Workplace learning’ studies the development of professional expertise in the workplace (i.e. in internships, jobs, voluntarily work, etc). Learning in formal settings (courses and trainings) has been studied for a long period of time, however, organizations have come to realize that employees do not only learn by the undertaking of training but also by learning more informally; in the daily workplace by performing their daily tasks and/or responsibilities. Informal learning is commonly understood as “any activity involving the pursuit of understanding, knowledge or skill which occurs outside the curricula of educational institutions, or the courses or workshops offered by educational or social agencies” (Livingstone, 1999; p. 2). More specifically informal learning can be recognized as the exchange of information and feedback; they are an integral part of informal learning. In addition, employees do not only learn individually in a formal or informal way. Most work-related learning is collaborative or takes place together with peers and supervisors. Taking the previous into account, the thematic group on workplace learning is going to focus on the following three subthemes/questions: 

1. How does initial vocational and professional education prepares for professional expertise of (future) professionals? 
2. Which mechanism and strategies facilitate the syntheses between what is learned in the various contexts (i.e., in particular school and workplace)? 
3. What can organizations do to support continuous development of professional expertise on an individual, team and network level in order to improve the employment of human capital?

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