Older Workers’ Vocational Learning: Taking Activities and Personal Senses into Account

  • Maria-Cristina MiglioreEmail author
Reference work entry


In the European debate, the issue of older workers’ vocational learning is framed as one of updating skills, contrasting ageism, providing access to learning, and supporting mobility, with limited attention to the issue of motivation or motives to learn when retirement is approaching. The chapter illustrates the view on older workers’ motives for workplace learning in different disciplines, from psychology of work to organizational studies, to educational gerontology, and to educational sciences. Placing side by side the different disciplinary approaches highlights all the aspects of that issue and indicates that the dimension of the development of activities in which older workers are involved is neglected. The last part of the chapter focuses on a case of contextualized analysis in industrial activities. It presents an attempt to hold a non-dualistic approach by connecting the older workers’ development to the development of the industrial enterprises in which they work. The aim is to show the importance of taking into account the activities in order to analyze the older workers’ motivation to learn. Motivation is conceptualized through the cultural-historical activity theory (CHAT). This choice stems from the idea that individuals and contexts cannot be separated and that motivation to learn emerges in the relationship between work and the engagement that the older workers develop with it. Enlarging the view to include activities and their strategies leads to consideration of older workers’ vocational learning as a collective and social issue, and not as solely an individual one. This perspective brings about policy implications and needs for new business models for industrial production.


Older workers Workplace learning Motives Motivation CHAT Industrial production Subjectivity Policy 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Economic and Social Research of Piedmont (IRES-Piemonte)TorinoItaly

Section editors and affiliations

  • Karen Evans
  • Natasha Kersh
    • 1
  1. 1.University College LondonLondonUK

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