Towards a Framework for Lifelong E-Learning and Employability

Towards a Framework for Lifelong E-Learning and Employability

Juan-Francisco Martínez-Cerdá (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC), Spain) and Joan Torrent-Sellens (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC), Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-6331-0.ch015
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This chapter presents and introduces several key concepts related to lifelong e-learning as a way for employability from the point of view of the socio-technical approach. Current employability needs and continuous training via new information and communication technologies bring an opportunity for a fresh proposal in this research area. Starting with the human capital approach, and several issues related to a socio-technical lifelong e-learning, we introduce the need of a new conceptual framework for improving the employability of workers and global citizens, which is based on relationships between people and technologies.
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The Human Capital Theory

ICT innovations and higher rates of productivity, profitability and business competitiveness lead to development and global economic progress (Castells, 1996). In this context, the fourth industrial revolution is beginning to develop in all its magnitude (Schwab, 2016), and the labor market is polarized and suffering the effects of robotization (Acemoglu & Restrepo, 2017; Barley, Bechky, & Milliken, 2017). In particular, workers suffer the consequences of a gig economy based on work oriented towards short-term tasks, and with employers working with insecurity and volatile conditions (Bithymitris, 2017). These factors are linked to other factors related to self-identity on the Internet, loss of skills, and other approaches such as of the filter, tail or herd theories (Arrow, 1971; Piore & Doeringer, 1970; Van Belle, Caers, De Couck, Di Stasio, & Baert, 2017).

That is why the theory of human capital developed during the sixties by Theodore W. Schultz (1961) and Gary S. Becker (1993) is one of the best tools for workers to improve their value in companies. A useful tool but also with certain shortcomings, vindicated by: i) their individualism, a fact that causes a large part of the responsibility related to employment to fall on the workers; ii) its validity as a seed for self-employment, uberization (collaborative and direct economy between clients and suppliers), job insecurity, and financial debts (Fleming, 2017); and iii) its utilitarian vision of education (Gilead, 2012), with aspects linked to ephemeral learning (Barnes, Brown, & Warhurst, 2016; Jarvis, 2009; Lazzareschi & Gomes Filho, 2006), to content that depends on the business needs (Bauman, 1999), to the skill-biased technological change (SBTC) (Sanders, 2013), to the overqualification (Davidson & Sly, 2014; Leuven & Oosterbeek, 2011), and to gender inequalities in training with effects on quality at work (Cloutier-Villeneuve, 2012; Mühlau, 2011).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Socio-technical approach: A methodology to analyze relationships between people and technologies in workplaces. Its application on studyplaces is interesting because there are many students and devices connected to and learning on the Internet today. It has two main areas: i) social issues related to people and organizations (relationships, rules, etc.), and ii) technical issues related to tasks and technologies (procedures, resources, etc.). The key idea is to have into account all these issues in a interrelated and systemic way, in order to improve global performance, benefits and results.

Lifelong E-Learning: A way of improving knowledge throughout life and by means of electronic media connected to the Internet via many devices. It works like a continuum in several areas: i) formal, non-formal and informal educational contents; ii) ages and educational levels; iii) learning spaces and places; iv) studying times and moments; and v) professional and life situations.

Human Capital: The ability to generate any kind of work with an economic value, and by using knowledge, psychosocial traits and social skills. It can be developed via education, and work and life experiences.

Empowerment: The ability to gain autonomy, voice and responsibility in own life. A very interesting approach has to do with continuing education aimed to improve skills useful in labour markets. Thus, it is a way of acquiring authority and critical thinking about relationships between education and employment, by taking into account the need of a citizenship and democratic education that go further than an education only for labor.

Employability: The ability to be valid in the job market by improving skills via education, continuous training, life and professional experiences, psychosocial traits, and social networking. A very interesting approach has to do with becoming aware and main protagonist about how balancing labour markets needs and personal and life decisions.

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