Working Life and Learning

Aims and themes of the network

The field of working life and learning is interdisciplinary and complex, and it opens up for a plurality of topics, as well as theoretical and methodological approaches. The network, thus, aims to gather researchers from different perspectives and traditions to enhance critical research, knowledge creation and sharing of experiences about the working life and learning.
Today the network consists of three themes:

  1. Work-based Learning Work is an important sphere of learning, identity formation and professional development in adult life. This theme focuses on research on experience and learning at work, work as learning environment, transformation of work, and the collective development efforts of work processes in ever more complex partnerships and networks. A topical question within this theme deals with the new forms and concepts of work as emerging arenas of learning.
  2. Human Resource Development (HRD) and Leadership The organization is an arena where the competence of individuals and groups may be applied and developed. This theme focuses on research on organizational structures, cultures, actors (e.g. managers/leaders and HR-professionals), and activities that facilitate learning and (career) development in different contexts. Specifically, this theme is oriented towards research on different forms of leadership (individual and/or collective) in relation to learning in organizations.
  3. Vocational Education and Training (VET) VET systems can be linked with formal, non-formal, or informal learning, and they are structured e.g. in terms of initial, professional, continuing and work-based education and training. This theme focuses on research on the diversity of systems, structures and types of vocational education and training, as well as on transitions into and out of the labour market. One of the main questions of this theme is the linkage between personal and holistic development with relevant labour market skills.

History of the network

The research network met for the first time in 1993 and worked for many years under the headline “Adult Education and the labour market” comprising a broad variety of themes of learning and education related to work on a specific level, or in the wider sense of societal and labour market relation. Participants in the network were typically politically engaged researchers who were interested in the practical perspectives of their research, but during the years of operation, a more theoretical and methodological interest in the development of the research area as such emerged. The network carried on in this form until 2007.
In 2011, the network was restarted with new convenorship and now with a focus on workplace learning, VET and HRD. The political agenda of the previous network was downplayed, but the practical, theoretical and methodological perspectives are still important parts of the network’s activities.
The network arranges seminars and conferences approximately every two years.



Sandra Bohlinger ✉️
🇩🇪 Dresden University of Technology

Christian Helms Jørgensen ✉️
🇩🇰 Roskilde University

Ola Lindberg ✉️
🇸🇪 Umeå University

Hanna Toiviainen ✉️
🇫🇮 University of Tampere

Andreas Wallo ✉️
🇸🇪 Linköping University


ESREA series
Bohlinger, S., Haake, U., Helms-Jørgensen, C., Toivianen, H., and Wallo, A. (Eds.). (2015). Work and learning in times of uncertainty. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers. 


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