The role of older workers in informal learning in SMEs: Cross-comparative Action Learning

  • Helen Tracey (Presenter)
  • Mick Brookes (Presenter)
  • Schroder, H. (Presenter)

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


The United Kingdom (UK) faces both substantial skills shortages and ageing workforces, with older workers being proposed as the solution to both these problems. However, while there is some evidence that age diversity in teams is beneficial, older workers face numerous stereotypes, as well as age discrimination. In particular, SMEs still undervalue the contribution made by older workers and appear to have done little to adapt their approach to the needs of an ageing workforce (Beck, 2014). SMEs have also been found to lack both the understanding of the need for age management, and the formal structures necessary for its implementation (Fuertes, Egdell & McQuaid, 2013). Both informal and group learning are common in SMEs (Tam & Gray, 2016). However, labelling, stereotyping and under-appreciation may cause older workers to withdraw, reinforcing stereotypes that older workers are averse to learning (compare: Posthuma & Campion, 2009). In turn this can affect relationships between the generations and prevent intergenerational group learning. Lack of reflection and formalisation of learning can also hinder learning at an organisational level, which SMEs rely upon to grow and survive. ‘Action Learning’ (Revans, 1982) is a potential solution to these problems which is particularly suitable to SMEs. This study aims to explore informal learning in SMEs through case study research. Based on these results ‘Action Learning’ (Revans, 1982) interventions will be designed and assessed.
Period06 Jun 201808 Jun 2018
Event titleUniversity Forum for Human Resource Development
Event typeConference
LocationNewcastle, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionNational