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Karolina Parding

Workplace learning the future

Published: 11 July 2012

Between 2007-2013 the Swedish ESF Council grants 13 billion to businesses and organizations around Sweden who wants to develop the skills of their employees. A&O, Workplace Learning and adaption in the working life, is a project that is working to systematize the results of these efforts.

– We look at current professional development projects. How they are organized, works, or does not work. One of the absolute most important message from our studies is that it is important that the individual's learning is integrated into business as a whole, says Karolina Parding, project coordinator and associate professor of work science at LTU.

What does this mean?

– The most common is that the employer sends an employee on a course. When the employee returns to work, the manager may ask "Was the course good?" but nothing really changes. The management often lack knowledge about how to handle, and effectively use, the employers new skills, says Karolina Parding.

A business development, work environment and profitability issue

Workplace learning is about moving the learning into the organisations. To learn about, learn new and learn more – and that employees get to use their skills. It's a win for both individuals and businesses. This in turn increases profitability. But workplace learning must be prioritized by the management and obtain a natural role in the business.

A & O's work is about raising awareness of these benefits, and to work with strategic influence over the social partners. For example, authorities, trade unions, businesses and other stakeholders.

– We raise this issue with those who have power and capital. To those who have influence and can make decisions that the Swedish labor market can benefit from.

What is going on in A&O right now?

– In July we took part in a panel discussion in Almedalen. In November, the ESF day will be held in Luleå. It is a national conference organized by our sponsor. The theme this year is workplace learning and we will present our results at the conference. Besides this, we organize regular workshops and participates in the context where our audiences are, for example at trade union congresses.


The European Social Fund in Sweden funds the project with about five million per year. A&O who are studying these projects started in the 2009. A&O is renewed yearly and expires in December 2013. The project is managed by LTU, but one works with the best minds in workplace learning from the universities in Gothenburg and Linköping and APeL R&D, a Örebro-based research organization.