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Learning through work: emerging perspectives and new challenges

Stephen Billett (School of Education and Professional Studies, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia)
Sarojni Choy (School of Education and Professional Studies, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia)

Journal of Workplace Learning

ISSN: 1366-5626

Article publication date: 10 May 2013




This paper aims to consider and appraise current developments and emerging perspectives on learning in the circumstances of work, to propose how some of the challenges for securing effective workplace learning may be redressed.


First, new challenges and perspectives on learning in the circumstances of work are summarised. Then, three key emerging concepts are reviewed. These are: changes in requirements of work; conceptual understandings about the processes of learning; and more elaborated views about the relations between the social and personal attributes. The procedural contributions of learning to improve learning for occupations, and employability and working life are also appraised.


The authors suggest that current conceptual and procedural understandings of learning in the workplace, informed by fields of cognitive science, and learning and development are limited because learning in the workplace is multimodal and complex, considering the socio‐cultural nature and boundaries that influence learning in multiple ways.

Research limitations/implications

The appraisal here draws knowledge from the education discipline, yet there is a need to reach out to other fields to extend understandings and develop appropriate responses to emerging perspectives and new challenges.

Practical implications

A broader understanding of the workplace learning environment will assist those responsible for organising learning in the workplace and worker‐ learners to facilitate and engage in learning for transformations in work practices and meet changing performance requirements.


The authors advocate an extension to different disciplines such as anthropology and neurological science to broaden understandings about the potential of the workplace as a learning environment for novice as well as experienced workers.



Billett, S. and Choy, S. (2013), "Learning through work: emerging perspectives and new challenges", Journal of Workplace Learning, Vol. 25 No. 4, pp. 264-276.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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