From 9 – 11 December 2015, the 9th International Conference on Researching Work & Learning (RWL9) was hosted in Singapore for the first time at the School of the Arts, Singapore, led by the Institute for Adult Learning (IAL), and co-organised by SIM University (UniSIM) and National Institute of Education (NIE).
The biennial RWL conference series, which was established in 1999, is organised through the leadership of the RWL International Advisory Committee, in collaboration with the Journal of Workplace Learning and Emerald Publishing. Themed Work and Learning in the Era of Globalisation: Challenges for the 21st Century, RWL9 saw the attendance of over 300 delegates hailing from 20 countries, from various backgrounds including academic, research, human resource development, and adult education and training.
At the opening ceremony, Dr Helen Bound, Head of the Centre for Work and Learning at IAL, welcomed the delegates, in her capacity as Chairperson of the Academic Committee for RWL9, and introduced the Guest-of-Honour, Mr Ng Cher Pong, Chief Executive of the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA). In his speech, Mr Ng said that it was timely for RWL9 to be held in Singapore as the nation was seeking to strengthen the nexus between work and learning, as part of the SkillsFuture movement to foster a culture of skills mastery and lifelong learning. He explained the importance of helping workers remain relevant and competitive by enabling them to adapt their skills to new settings and work requirements, and that Singapore is committed to build a high skills and high productivity system to benefit workers, industries and the wider society. Mr Ng also took the chance to announce that UniSIM and IAL would be working together to develop research programmes in learning analytics and pedagogical practices, and explore ways to strengthen the capabilities of educators and researchers.
Sharing their knowledge and insights at RWL9 were three distinguished keynote speakers, viz., Professor Raewyn Connell from University of Sydney, who spoke on “The Neo-liberal World and Teachers’ Work, in Southern Perspective”; Associate Professor Lee Yew Jin from NIE, who presented on “Learning and Earning in an Implausible State: A Singapore Story”; and Professor David Guile from University College London, who covered the topic of “Work and Learning: Origins, Trends and Challenges”.
The delegates also got to hear from representatives from UniSIM, NIE, WDA, IAL, and many other world-renowned local and foreign organisations and universities, with more than 160 papers being presented. Dr Lim Wei Ying, a lecturer at UniSIM’s Teaching and Learning Centre, was one of the presenters of the paper entitled Creating and Learning Through Design: Teacher Professional Development for 21st Century Learning, co-authored with Associate Professor Joyce Koh Hwee Ling and Associate Professor Chai Ching Sing, both from NIE. Dr Priscilla Pang, Head of the English Language and Literature programme at UniSIM’s School of Arts and Social Sciences, presented her paper entitled Researching Work and Learning Through Linguistic Ethnography.
Besides the keynote and paper presentations, the delegates also attended workshops and went on site visits. RWL9 was a highly successful conference as it met its objective of bringing global participants together to discuss new ideas and approaches in the field of work and learning. In particular, they gained a better understanding of the impact that globalisation has on skills, performance and work, the implications of the changing nature of work for learning through work, and the ways in which vocational education and training policies and systems can be responsive to the changing nature of work, and global and regional pressures.
Dr Helen Bound delivering her welcome remarks.
Mr Ng Cher Pong addressing the delegates.
Keynote speaker Professor Raewyn Connell speaking on the topic of “The Neo-liberal World and Teachers’ Work, in Southern Perspective”.
Keynote speaker Associate Professor Lee Yew Jin presenting on “Learning and Earning in an Implausible State: A Singapore Story”.
Keynote speaker Professor David Guile sharing his insights on “Work and Learning: Origins, Trends and Challenges”.
Panel discussion exploring the impact of research, with (from left) Dr Helen Bound as the moderator, and Professor David Guile; Associate Professor Lee Yew Jin; Dr Ann Reich, member of the RWL International Advisory Committee; and Professor Peter Sawchuk, Chair of the RWL International Advisory Committee, as the panel members.