Theme Two projects focus on the evolving relationships between the organisation of work, patterns of learning and skill, and economic performance.
Theme Two projects focus on the evolving relationships between the organisation of work, patterns of learning and skill, and economic performance. All the projects shared at the outset some initial hypotheses:
- that workplaces are important sites for the development and use of knowledge and skills, and that there is considerable heterogeneity in how work and learning is configured;
- that these relationships are intimately related to the general quality of jobs, from both workers’ and employers’ perspectives;
- and that these factors are in turn related to productivity, economic competitiveness and to economic and social inequality.
These features warranted a much better knowledge base in order to support the advance of economic and social theory in these areas, the development of sound economic policy for jobs, and the development of policies that help address the learning challenges of the contemporary economy.
In the first five years of the LLAKES programme, a key focus was on the way education and training (including through studies of new forms of apprenticeship) have been used at the level of the city-region to mediate life chances, foster social cohesion and contribute to economic regeneration. LLAKES examined the way national and regional policies have supported firms to use informal learning and networking to improve their competitiveness nationally and internationally.
The Theme Two programme has been building on these earlier findings. In assigning pride of place in Theme Two to the workplace and learning at work, LLAKES is advancing the view that the nature of the workplace is of major importance for the promotion of competitiveness and social cohesion.
The projects organised under this theme address important gaps in these literatures, including knowledge of:
a) the origins and effects of the skills embodied in intangible capital;
b) new forms of work organisation in professional work;
c) the role of education and training systems, work organisation and workplace learning in facilitating or inhibiting innovation;
d) the factors underlying good quality training;
e) the links between learning, work organisation, job quality and well-being, and
f) the roles of social and economic factors in determining how people acquire high and low quality jobs.
Theme Two is also characterised by a multi-level and dynamic orientation. Projects examine issues from the level of the individual, the firm, the sector, the region and the nation. The Theme also attempts to trace processes of change rather than just looking at single points of time, wherever possible using longitudinal methods, both quantitative and qualitative.