Module 1: planning for learning at work: learner's workbook

3.1 What is work-based learning?

Page last updated: 2004

Work-based learning is the term used to describe a relationship between learning and work. It emerges from the demands of work, rather than from formal educational programs (Gore, 2001). Workplace (or on-the-job) learning is much more than a training course or a single on-the-job activity. It exists in a variety of forms (such as teamwork, coaching, mentoring and computer-based learning) which we will be exploring in this module.

Over the years, it has become increasingly clear that training is only a part of learning and a number of factors are likely to influence the effectiveness of learning. These include:

  • policies and procedures
  • organisational and management structures
  • resourcing levels
  • organisational culture
  • professional supports.
The value of our everyday experiences in skill development is becoming increasingly apparent and the role of work-based learning has expanded accordingly.

Learning opportunities

When you went through the process of identifying and analysing your learning style(s) you may have recognised that you do not always make full use of the opportunities available to you - very few people do! The emphasis we have given to on-the-job learning arises from our recognition that there are many more opportunities in the workplace than there ever will be for off-the-job learning. There is no problem 'transferring' what you learn on the job as there is from, say, a training workshop. The range of opportunities that exists in the workplace, includes:
  • unplanned learning through current job
  • planned, created learning within current job responsibilities
  • planned learning through additions to current responsibilities
  • planned learning through special assignments
  • planned learning by experience outside work
  • planned learning from boss or colleagues.

Task - writing exercise

Question - What are some of the benefits of work-based learning?

Answer - (Write your answer, then check the possible answers page.)