Learning the Job: Juggling the Messages in On- and Off-the-job Training

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This report is an interpretative examination of on- and off-job sites as learning environments. It explores meanings that apprentices, workplace mentors, and technical and further education (TAFE) teachers develop and place on integrated training. Key insights from research on 32 apprentices, 21 host employers, and 6 TAFE teachers in South Australia are tested against counterpart samples: 76 apprentices, 59 host employers, and 120 TAFE teachers, in New South Wales and Western Australia. The report begins with the story of Mario, an apprentice, and Sam, a builder, to emphasize that this is a human story in an ordinary work context. Five main sections analyze the study's context and the learning environments constructed by the host employers (on job) and teachers (off job). They include the apprentices' experiences of these constructed learning environments, perceptions of the interstate counterparts on integrated training, and interpretations and conclusions. These conclusions are reached: the relationship between apprentice and workplace mentor is critical to apprentices' learning; each learning environment contributes valuably but differently to apprentices' learning; all participants play many roles; apprenticeship is a negotiated, constructed experience where developmental time is important; apprenticeship is a time of turbulence and tension; and squeezing learning out of work is a core competency in apprenticeship. (Contains 116 references; appendixes include instruments and 11 data tables.) (YLB)

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