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

Helen Tracey, Mick Brookes, Heike Schroder

Research output: Contribution to conferenceOther

Abstract

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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages1-18
Number of pages18
Publication statusAccepted - 28 Apr 2018
EventUniversity Forum for Human Resource Development - Northumbria University, Newcastle, United Kingdom
Duration: 06 Jun 201808 Jun 2018
https://www.northumbria.ac.uk/about-us/news-events/events/2018/06/university-forum-for-hrd-annual-conference-2018/

Conference

ConferenceUniversity Forum for Human Resource Development
Abbreviated titleUFHRD
CountryUnited Kingdom
CityNewcastle
Period06/06/201808/06/2018
Internet address

Keywords

  • SME
  • older worker
  • intergenerational learning
  • skill shortage
  • age discrimination
  • action learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

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