Trailblazing: new ways of thinking with the fire and emergency services industry about learning and development

Year: 2016

Author: Keen-Dyer, Helen, Short, Andrew, Madsen, Wendy, Roy, Sherre, Harreveld, Bobby

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The Fire and Emergency Services (FES) industry in Australia is undergoing a rapid and significant transformation. The resulting changes are permeating all aspects of the operation of the industry, including, importantly, the avenues of learning and development the industry uses to support its people. The FES industry has a current and long-standing history with the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector, however, in more recent times, the industry has begun exploring the potential contribution of the Higher Education (HE) sector (CQUniversity Australia-AFAC, 2015). While the industry has acknowledged the need for HE programs as part of a comprehensive approach to learning and development, the opportunities afforded through the higher education sector are yet to be fully realised. In order to embrace a comprehensive approach to learning and development that spans VET and HE, the FES industry and the HE sector need to more fully understand the ways in which they can work together to maximise the learning and development requirements of FES. This presentation reports on a research project being undertaken in the Queensland FES context through a CQUniversity - Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) partnerships approach. The research, which also forms the basis of a doctoral study aims to investigate the FES learning environment to provide the necessary evidence upon which FES and HE can build robust, sustainable and industry-relevant education programs to prepare FES workers for an increasingly complex industry environment. In particular, the presentation will discuss the novel approach being taken through the use of the Landscapes of Practice (Wenger, 1998; Wenger-Trayner and Wenger, Trayner, 2015) theoretical framework and how that framework is being utilised to better understand FES, to understand current and foreseeable challenges relating to FES and HE working together, and how those challenges may be addressed. Finally, the link between the theoretical and case study (Stake, 2010) methodological frameworks and the resulting preliminary findings will be explored. CQUniversity Australia-AFAC (Keen-Dyer, H., Bridges, A., Ferguson, S., Reynolds, A., & Paterson, J.) (2015a). Research utilisation and the higher education industry nexus: synthesis of an exploratory project and suggested course of action. Bundaberg: Central Queensland University.Stake, R. E. (2010). Qualitative research: Studying how things work. New York: The Guilford Press.Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of Practice: Learning Meaning and Identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Wenger-Trayner, E., & Wenger-Trayner, B. (2015). Learning in a landscape of practice. In E. Wenger-Trayner, M. Fenton-O'Creevy, S. Hutchinson, C. Kubiak, & B. Wenger-Trayner (Eds.), Learning in landscapes of practice (pp. 13-29). Oxon: Routledge.