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The Learning Intention of Low-Qualified Employees: A Key for Participation in Lifelong Learning and Continuous Training

Abstract

In our continuously changing society, a need for updating one’s skills and knowledge puts pressure on safeguarding the labour market position of low-qualified employees. However, prior research and official statistics show that employees with a lower level of education tend to participate less in training than highly-educated individuals. This limited participation is associated with employers offering fewer opportunities to low-qualified employees, but also with the fact that low-qualified employees themselves might be less willing to participate. In other words, their learning intentions are assumed to be weaker and more restricted than the learning intentions of highly-educated employees. The article reports on a quantitative survey research on the learning intentions of 406 low-qualified employees. The results showed that employees who participated in formal job-related learning activities during the last 5 years had a stronger learning intention than those who did not. Next, the results of the stepwise regression showed that self-directedness, financial benefits, self-efficacy, and autonomy were significant positive predictors of the learning intentions of low-qualified employees. Also, the limited number of possibilities or opportunities to learn was not significant. The results indicated that a learning intention can lead towards the participation in learning activities, but participation is not merely initiated by offering opportunities for learning. Organisational aspects such as job autonomy and financial benefits can stimulate the learning intention of an employee. Finally, regarding the socio-demographic variables, only limited differences were found. In short, employees with no educational qualifications and a full-time contract had the lowest intention to learn.

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Correspondence to Eva Kyndt.

Appendices

Appendix 1: Factor Analysis Learning Intention

Factor Matrix

  Factor
1
I Intend to talk with persons in my surroundings about job-related courses or trainings that I could follow. .539
I intend to participate in a job-related learning activity within the next year. .758
I intend to look for information about job-related courses and learning activities that I could participate in. .668
Sometimes I think about following a job-related training within the next year. .772
I intend to talk with my executive about job-related courses or trainings that I could follow. .664

Extraction Method: Maximum likelihood.

Appendix 2: Factor Analysis Independent Variables: Factors, Items, Factor Loadings, Explained Variance and Reliability

Factor 1: Self-directedness in the career processes (17.70% explained variance, α = .82). Factor loading
I find it important to get in touch with people who can be of importance to my career as much as possible. .685
I always think ahead about the steps I have to take in order to reach my career objectives. .667
I find it important to think about what I want to realize in my career during the following years .657
I keep my manager informed on what I want to reach in my career. .603
I think it’s important to think about the progression of my career. .588
I keep myself informed on new possibilities to develop my career. .540
I find it important to consider if my present position in the department and the organisation is the right one. .455
Factor 2: Financial benefits (6.75% explained variance, α = .74). Factor loading
I am being paid well for the work I am doing here. .834
In my company the salaries are good. .592
I think my salary is fair in comparison with my colleagues. .561
I can manage easily on my wage. .536
Factor 3: Self-efficacy (5.28% explained variance, α = .80). Factor loading
I know for sure that I can persevere in a training or course, even when it’s tough or things do not go my way. .736
I’m sure that I am able to cope with the course. .688
I’m sure that I would be a good member when I would participate in a learning activity. .631
Factor 4: Perceived job autonomy (4.77% explained variance, α = .63). Factor loading
I’m free to take decision about how I do my job. .644
I’m free to do my job the way I want. .615
Organising the daily routines of my job is left up to me. .446
Difficult and important tasks at work are also left up to me. .402
Factor 5: Perceived limited number of chances and support (3.97% explained variance, α = .60). Factor loading
In this organisation you are not encouraged to take responsibility for your own learning. .596
I did not participate in training because my employer did not support this. .539
I do not get the chance to my job in my own way. .510
I did not participate in training because I did not get the opportunity of my employer. .497
Factor 6: Perceived stimulation by the employer (3.43% explained variance, α = .56). Factor loading
I participated in a learning activity because I was stimulated by my employer. .643
I participated in training because I had to in order to keep my function. .582

Extraction Method: Maximum Likelihood.

Rotation Method: Varimax with Kaiser Normalization.

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Kyndt, E., Govaerts, N., Dochy, F. et al. The Learning Intention of Low-Qualified Employees: A Key for Participation in Lifelong Learning and Continuous Training. Vocations and Learning 4, 211 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12186-011-9058-5

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Keywords

  • Learning intention
  • Low-qualified employees
  • Lifelong learning
  • Formal learning