From the left: Dandira, Franca, Prof Heila, Sibusisiwe Mavuso, John, Tshanda, Live, Prof Andre, Nicola, Prof Eureta, Mike, Sibusisiwe Gumede, Bongani and Dhiren.
Masters and PhD students from Wits and Rhodes Universities explored a variety of work and learning related theories during a three day short course in December 2016. They realised they were in for a treat when doctoral candidate Dhiren Govender remarked: “We are in the presence of three research chairs and it’s not even an international conference!” The Chairs of Global Change and Social Learning, Prof Heila Lotz-Sisitka, gave a presentation entitled: A Beginners Guide to the Educational Theories of Situated Learning in the Workplace. Murray and Roberts Chair of Environment and Sustainability Education, Prof Eureta Rosenberg, shared examples from recent green skills studies with Presha Ramsarup, outlining the demand side argument in skills development. Convenor of the course, Prof Andre Kraak of Wits REAL (the Centre for Researching Work and Learning), introduced among others evolutionary economics and innovation literatures that focus on situated learning in the firm. Nine of the 11 students had read an area of the literature and summarised it for the group in a power point presentation, a methodology which worked well for both presenters and audience. As Prof Kraak noted, it also prepared students for presenting the arguments in their own work logically and concisely. Among others, Sibusisiwe Mavuso outlined the concept of a developmental state, and asked to what extent South Africa could be regarded as a developmental state. Nicola Jenkin introduced the concept of a circular economy, and Mike Ward discussed ‘upgrading’ in global value chains, which Dhiren Govender applied to the horticulture industry. Franca Pevellerre outlined the high skills thesis and its critiques, while Bongani Mahlangu reviewed the American community college system and the contribution of intermediaries. These and other students were able to apply the various concepts to the local context; they discussed in particular issues of coordination and alignment between the different elements of the skills-work ‘ecosystem’.