Staying in a certain state of mind: becoming and being a freelance adult educator in Singapore

Authors: Peter Rushbrook, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University; Annie Karmel and Helen Bound, Institute for Adult Learning, Singapore

Edition: Volume 54, Number 3, November 2014

Summary:  Over recent years Singapore has developed a strong adult and vocational education system based on those of Great Britain, Australiaand New Zealand. Its Continuing Education and Training (CET) sector makes use of competency-based training in the form of Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQs) which are delivered in mainly small private providers by learning facilitators qualified through a range of WSQ-based training programs. Most facilitators are mature-age and second-career people drawn from diverse career backgrounds and employed on a casual and part-time rather than ongoing basis. They identify themselves as ‘freelancers’ in the training market place and compete vigorously for the work opportunities available. In the paper we argue that continued workplace success is premised on a strong sense of professional identity and its management through a process of ‘shapeshifting’ according to the diverse requirements of the adult education industry. We explore this idea through revisiting three of our projects examining Singaporean CET educators and ask of our data a new question: ‘How do individuals “become” and “be” Singaporean adult education freelancers?’ We draw our insights from interviews with freelancers, Singapore’s political and economic context and a range of literature drawn principally from a socio-cultural theoretical perspective.

Keywords: Adult education, vocational education, workplace learning, professional identity, Singapore education


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This article is part of AJAL, Volume 54_3. The entire volume is available in .pdf for purchase here.

Posted in Refereed article