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Creating a Culture of Lifelong Learning at Work

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The Continuing Professional Development conference, "Attitudes to CPD: Establishing a Culture of Life-Long Learning at Work", was based on a series of four papers that explored a number of broad issues associated with encouraging and facilitating lifelong learning at work. These were:

* The Key Players: roles, relationships and responsibilities (Hemmington 1999a);
* Barriers and Drivers to Participation (Hemmington 1999b);
* Attitudes to CPD; the case of the hospitality industry (Hemmington 1999c);
* Strategies to Create a Culture of Lifelong Learning at Work (Hemmington 1999d).

The debate that ensued was wide ranging and was not limited to the issues that were raised by the initial papers. Conversely, there were several issues in the papers that were not explored by the conference delegates. Consequently, this article focuses on the issues raised in the conference discussion and the conference papers will be published as separate articles.

Five main threads of discussion developed during the conference; these were: the relationship between CPD and organizational strategy, the constraints of time, the role of informal and work-based learning, networking, and the role of the universities and colleges.

Conclusion
It is interesting that from what appeared to be a number of diverse strands of discussion, a certain thread of logic seems to have evolved.

From the initial discussion of organizational strategy it was clear that resources, particularly time, were an important issue. In exploring the widespread view that lack of time is a significant barrier to CPD, it was evident that a more flexible approach, based on informal and work based learning, could be central to any effective implementation strategy.

This led to a consideration of how work based learning could be supported and how the learning could be embedded in the workplace. The concept of networking, both in person and electronically, to create communities of practice was proposed by several contributors.

Interestingly, most of those suggesting this approach were university based; perhaps this is the role of the universities, that is, to facilitate networking and act as communities of practice. Now there's an interesting thought!


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