Research Paper 37: Apprenticeship and Freelance Work: a de-centred and distributed model of learning to develop media production apprentices’ vocational practice and social capital


David Guile and Ann Lahiff


Media work is increasingly contract-based, de-centred and distributed across different sites. This development poses a problem for traditional novice-to-expert assumptions that underpin the design of most models of apprenticeship and post-Lave and Wenger conceptions of workplace learning. This paper outlines the creation of a apprenticeship – apprenticeship for liquid life – designed to prepare apprentices to become contract-based workers in the media industry. The key features of the apprenticeship are a new model of learning to support apprentices to develop vocational practice (knowledge, skill and judgment) and social capital (networks to secure future employment). The paper concludes by arguing that the model shows that: (i) the workplace learning community is too attached to researching stable and site-specific forms of working and learning; and, (ii) the post-Wolf and post-Richards debates about the future direction of apprenticeship in the UK needs to consider how to re-think the national framework for apprenticeship to prepare apprentices for freelance work.