Dr Stephen Billett is Professor of Adult and Vocational Education in the School of Education and Professional Studies at Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia and also an Australian Research Council Future Fellow. After a career in garment manufacturing, he has worked as a vocational educator, educational administrator, teacher educator, professional development practitioner and policy developer in the Australian vocational education system and as a teacher and researcher at Griffith University. Since 1992, he has researched learning through and for work and has published widely in fields of learning of occupations, workplace learning, work and conceptual accounts of learning for vocational purposes. His sole authored books include Learning through work: Strategies for effective practice (Allen and Unwin 2001); Work, change and workers (Springer 2006) Vocational Education (Springer 2011) and Mimetic learning at Work (2014) and Integrating Practice-based Learning in Higher Education Programs (Springer 2015). His edited books include Work, Subjectivity and Learning (Springer, 2006) Emerging Perspectives of Work and Learning (Sense 2008), Learning through practice (Springer 2010), Promoting professional learning (Springer 2011), Experiences of school transitions (Springer 2012), Promoting, assessing, recognizing and certifying Lifelong Learning (Springer 2014) and Francophone conceptions of Learning through practice (Springer 2015). He is the founding and Editor in Chief of Vocations and learning: Studies in vocational and professional education (Springer) and lead editor of the book series Professional and practice-based learning (Springer) the International Handbook of Research in Professional and Practice-based Learning (2014) with colleagues from Germany. He was a Fulbright Professional Scholar in 1999, awarded a 2009-2010 Australian Learning and Teaching Council National Teaching Fellowship that identified principles and practices to effectively integrate learning experiences in practice and academic settings. In June 2011, he commenced a four-year Australian Research Council Future Fellowship on learning through practice, which aims to develop a curriculum and pedagogy of practice. He has recently secured an Office of Learning and Teaching Development Grant examining students’ post-practicum experiences (2015-2018). In August 2013, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Jyvasksla University (Finland) for his contributions to educational science and elected Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences of Australia in 2015.
My recent visit to the University of Stavanger reinforces the importance of collaborations, not only because of its international dimension, but engaging with colleagues who are entrenched in the field of healthcare, but also from different perspectives and orientations. The projects here focus on building both workforce capacity through individual development and system strength in promoting resilience through individual, collaborative and systemwide responses. For me this collaboration has been helpful in capturing a broader range of perspectives, views and approaches to conducting research at the intersection between work and learning.
A short 16 minute presentation of a research project that sought to identify what would attract and engage young people in healthcare occupations, what would comprise effective models of preparation and what is required to retain those individuals in that work.
The first keynote presentation by Professor Stephen Billett at the 12th Researching Work & Learning (RWL12) Conference organized by the University of Toronto (July 13-15, 2022). The Researching Work & Learning (RWL) International Conference Series is the world’s longest, continuously running international research conference series serving the field of workplace learning. It was initiated in 1999 by researchers at the University of Leeds (UK).
This is a presentation of a conference paper, in absence, about the importance of enhancing the status of vocational education and training and the occupation it serves. Centrally, it draws upon a study in Australia which sought to identify how that standing might be enhanced through engagement with young people, their teachers, parents and others. It provides an overview of the reasons why addressing this problem is worthwhile, the means by which the research was undertaken and some strategies and approaches to begin to address this issue. Attached to the conference presentation is reference to additional resources and references.
This video provides considerations of and suggestions for how Clinical Teaching might be conceptualised and enacted. In particular, it proposes that it is important to go beyond telling and view this teaching more broadly. It also emphasizes how this teaching can occur, largely, through everyday activities and interaction in clinical practice. Ultimately, the focus needs to be on trainees’ learning and assisting them become active and agentic learners.
The webinar draws on the findings from an Education Horizons project engaging Queensland school-age children, parents and their teachers to propose how vocational education might be considered a more attractive and viable post-education pathway. Beyond that specific focus, the findings informed about the influences on and the processes through which young people make these decisions and how that might be better informed and enacted. These findings have been used here to address how student-centred processes of decision-making best inform and empower young Queenslanders’ choices about post-school pathways. The webinar was conducted through the Senior Schooling unit within the Queensland Department of Education. Click here to access the webinar.
To understand, evaluate and enhance how vocational education and training (VET) contributes to individuals’ learning of their occupational capacities and workplace requirements necessitates appraising those contributions across the course of their working life. It is particularly helpful to know more about how VET assists and supports working age Australians through key worklife transitions to appraise its contributions. Here, the concept of a personal curriculum – the individual pathway comprising across working life – is introduced and evoked to capture the worklife pathways some individuals take and the contributions that VET can and should make. Drawing on a current project elaborating individuals’ worklife histories it is found that three interdependent contributions arise: the person, educational provisions (widely defined) and those from ‘community’. The concept of personal curriculum and the factors shaping it are advanced in this paper. It concludes by suggesting ways those pathways might be supported through VET provisions and processes.
Apprenticeship as a mode of learning and model of education
Apprenticeship is usually seen as a model of education combining experiences in workplaces and tertiary education institutions. However, apprenticeship has been primarily been a mode of learning (Billett, 2016). Before the advent of education provisions for occupations mainly over the last hundred years, across human history and cultures apprenticeship was primarily a process of the apprentice engaging in active and self-directed learning. This remains the case in countries that practice what is referred to as ‘traditional’ apprenticeships (ILO 2015, Marchand 2008). Given concerns about learner engagement, requirements for learning contemporary occupational knowledge, and need to develop the capacities required for learning across lengthening working lives, it is timely to revisit the original concept of apprenticeship. That is where learners are positioned to ‘apprehend’ the knowledge required for occupational practice and having responsibility for organising and optimising their learning. As in earlier times, contemporaneously, much occupational knowledge cannot be accessed by learners’ discovery efforts alone. Hence, alongside a focus on active learning, it is necessary to consider the pedagogic practices that guide and support that learning. Importantly, these practices are sometimes distinct from those designed for teaching and classroom instruction. As noted, these kinds of processes of active engagement and guidance are not just limited to the initial occupational preparation but have a key role in the ongoing development of occupational capacity across working lives. It follows, this paper will set out premises for viewing apprenticeship as a mode of learning, elaborate learner engagement qualities, briefly elaborate curriculum and pedagogic practices supporting it and conclude with potential implications for vocational education and development of occupational capacities.
Concerns about the role of critical thinking in learning is the key focus of an interview organised and hosted by Dr Anthony Leow, Assistant Director (Capability and Industry) at Republic Polytechnic, Singapore. Dr Leow pose a number of questions about what constitutes critical thinking, its relevance to contemporary work and workplaces, how it can be developed by working age Singaporeans and the ways in which that development can be supported through continuing education and training. Consistent with these concerns is how critical thinking is aligned with what is referred to as 21st-century skills, and any impacts upon work practices and adult education.
This interview was conducted on 12 May 2021. Click here to listen to the interview.