New problems, new solutions: role of HESWBL in global challenges

Overview of special issue

Submission window opens on ScholarOne (do not submit before this date): 10th July 2022

Higher Education, Skills and Work Based Learning (HESWBL) is seeking submissions for an innovative Special Issue which defines and tackles global and emerging challenges through methods which fundamentally connect learning and workplaces, for example, work-integrated learning, work-based learning, workplace learning, and practicum (Wall, 2017). The aspiration is that we move from our existing knowledge of perennial problems to new problems which need attention and development of educational responses and impacts. Here, key themes over the past five years in WIL/WBL publications highlight the persistence of student outcomes such as employability, different kinds of work experience/learning, WIL/WBL design and approaches, and frameworks to enhance quality and delivery of WIL/WBL programmes (see previous HESWBL issues for examples).

Emerging topics, seemingly prompted by the COVID-19 crisis, include collaboration and teamwork, international networking, student well-being and risk, professional identities, the future of the workplace, and the surrounding ethical considerations (e.g. Billett, 2021; Leal Fihlo et al, 2022; Moser, den Hond and Lindebaum, 2022). Some of these reflect the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals which highlight the short and long term issues (and solutions) around work and technology, climate change and adaptation, equality and social mobility, and just transitions and peace (e.g. Leal Fihlo et al, 2022; Woods, Dell, and Carroll, 2022). Each of these could not be more pressing in global news as we launch this Special Issue - in some parts of the world organisations are declaring climate emergencies and in some areas, poverty emergencies.

As can be gleaned from practitioner-oriented media, the nature of work continues to change, fuelled by and coupled with changing technologies and learning (see Kropp and McRae, 2022). One of these trends relates to the flexibility in both work location and working times, where employees are measured by their outputs rather by a rigid set of hours worked. Another trend relates to employers expecting to ‘rent’ talent to fill their skills gap, as companies’ skills needs are expected to grow faster than their ability to upskill their employees. At the same time, remote workplace learning continues with the rise of subscription services to lifelong learning, immersive learning, and the use of artificial intelligence in the classroom (Marr, 2021). What do these emerging trends in the world of work and training mean for the university student, the institution, and therefore for WIL design and delivery? What opportunities will present themselves, and which problems should we expect to tackle?

In contrast to other Special Issues in HESWBL, this will be the first which is generated through a year-long, global unconference format. Unconferences are invariably “non-hierarchical, participant driven, self-managed meeting formats which seek to avoid top-down hierarchical knowledge transmission found within traditional conferences” (King, Griffin, and Bell, 2022, p 1). Our ambition is that ideas are generated, developed, and showcased through an upcoming year-long unconference, which are then refined and revised through standard double blind peer-review processes and published in the Special Issue. The unconference, and submissions accepted into the Special Issue, will draw together practitioners, educators, researchers and learners across the globe to offer diverse perspectives. Specific topics will emerge from the dialogue at the event, but will highlight the role of WIL to address grand challenges. This Special Issue will reflect new and important WIL research and practice to provide a holistic and inclusive perspective of WIL from around the world, including in broad areas such as

  • WIL and future of work
  • WIL and sustainability
  • WIL and inclusion
  • WIL and change/transitions
  • WIL and peace

We are seeking original contributions which say something fresh and interesting for the global community, and as such, we welcome a wide variety of contributions:

  • Viewpoints reflections which articulate a new problem, which challenge an existing practice, or which propose new perspectives based on robust argument
  • Government or university policy analyses or evaluations
  • Case studies which share innovative practice using robust methods or evaluation
  • Action research studies (programme or longitudinal)
  • Literature reviews and analyses which propose new perspectives
  • Creative or arts-based methods including ethnographic or autoethnographic studies

The Special Issue Editorial team drawn together from around the world would like to invite ideas, abstracts or developed texts to the global unconference, starting 1 July 2022, with the theme ‘New Problems, New Solutions’. We welcome collaborative or cooperative papers, with researchers and practitioners partnering together to explore and write about shared interests and innovations. The unconference will support writing through workshops in August and September. We look forward to your contributions!

Submission details

Author guidelines are available on the HESWBL website.

To submit your research, please visit ScholarOne.