Learning among Older Professional Workers: Knowledge Strategies and Knowledge Orientations



Fenwick T (2012) Learning among Older Professional Workers: Knowledge Strategies and Knowledge Orientations. Vocations and Learning, 5 (3), pp. 203-223.

A growing body of research and policy focused on 'older workers' is attempting to address perceived concerns that older workers' skills are declining, along with their participation in employment and in employment-related learning opportunities. The discussion here seeks to contribute to this research. Its focus is the learning of older professional workers, about comparatively little has been published. The article presents research conducted in Canada involving 60 personal interviews with older Certified Management Accountants (CMAs). This qualitative study was designed to understand older professionals' participation in learning through their reports not only of when, how and why they participated in specific learning activities, but also through their stories of practice and work, their understandings of knowledge, and how they view themselves as knowers and as knowledge workers. The findings showed that older CMA professionals appeared to position themselves deliberately as knowers, performing particular knowledge orientations aligned with their work priorities, and to resent external provisions for and assessments of their 'learning'. Four orientations appeared most prominently, which are here described as 'consolidating', 'outreaching', 're-positioning', and 'disengaging'. The concluding section argues that far from withdrawing from learning, these older professionals are particularly strategic in what, when and how they engage. In fact most are astute in employing diverse strategies and resources in knowledge development, according to the knowledge orientation they adopt in their practice. These understandings may suggest ways to more effectively recognise and support older professionals' learning in organizations and professional associations.

Older workers; Accountant education; Professional learning; Continuing professional development; Knowledge orientations; Older people Employment ; Professional development ; Professional education

Vocations and Learning: Volume 5, Issue 3

Publication date31/10/2012
Publication date online23/02/2012
PublisherSpringer Verlag

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Professor Tara Fenwick

Professor Tara Fenwick

Emeritus Professor, Education