Someone Like Us: Trades identities and support for work/learning

Main Article Content

Chris Holland


This paper reflects on specific findings from a 2009 study of on and off-job learning that explored apprentices’ learning experiences, formal and informal learning connections, and implications for language, literacy and numeracy in vocational learning. The study was conducted in the glazing industry in New Zealandi, and as part of that study, apprentice profiles were developed. This discussion focuses on three of those profiles and reflects on two emerging themes. The first theme is employer and apprentice perceptions of the value of apprentices coming from a ‘trades family’. The second theme is the range of inclusions and exclusions, advantages and disadvantages that apprentices experience depending on their ‘trades family’ status in both on and off-job learning. The paper then considers what kind of learning support might help integrate the different identities required within an apprenticeship.

Article Details

Author Biography

Chris Holland, Impact Research New Zealand

Chris Holland has worked in the UK, Europe and New Zealand to research and address learning issues for low paid workers that are often attributed to low functional language, literacy or numeracy (LLN). Using a critical discourse analysis and ethnographic approach, Chris’ Phd explored how literacy was perceived and addressed in UK policy, practitioner professional development, and the workplace.

 Over her seven years in the UK, Chris co-directed a national DFES funded support network, based at Lancaster University, for workplace LLN practitioners. Her European work involves social inclusion projects for migrants in the workplace. In New Zealand, Chris is the Director of Work & Education Research and Development Services, which advises and conducts research and professional development mainly with government departments, industry training organisations and the Council of Trade Unions. Since 2007 Chris has been exploring mentoring for apprentices.