Professional context: small company in Portugal

This small technology-based company located in a big city of Portugal specialized in engineering has its core business in areas like space, energy, transports and health. From the 12 employees, 11 were part of the first piloting phase of TRAILER. Typically employees had a degree or a MSc and their age was between 26 and 40 years old.

This company CEO had already a clear understanding about informal learning (IL) and what it represents in their daily knowledge management. He and his employees already acknowledge IL’s importance and some develop IL activities regularly. So, the majority had a good prior recognition of IL, which was slightly improved after the pilots. The most important activities that could trigger IL were recorded as: “Reading”, “Trial and error” and “Searching in the Internet”. In general, comparing with other cases, they show the higher level of agreement relatively to the need for IL activities in: “learn to perform particular tasks” and  “improve their professional status”.

During the first piloting – the learner perspective phase, they showed a good percentage of active users (80%), but few competences were added per informal learning activities (ILA’s), in fact, in average only 1 per person.  Also only 52% of actions were completed on both platforms (an average of 3 ILA’s per user). Regarding the phase of sharing their IL activities and competences, their results were very low: none of the collected activities were made public and only 25% of users’ competences and 20% of ILA’s associated competences were published. This fact undermined the work that could have been accomplished in the second pilot – the employer perspective. Since he could only act upon the published competences, his work was reduced.

In spite of this constrain, the company CEO was able to understand that the main areas of work and interests of their employees were more or less common with the company line of work. He was able to validate some of his employees’ user competences and add some institutional competences to his original list of institutional competences.

His prior work and the work made in the pilots allowed him to reinforce the importance IL management plays nowadays in a company. He considered that even though the TRAILER tool has some usability problems that should be overcome, it presents an excellent way to aid knowledge management within the company, but as any other tool, it should have a control point somewhere in time (in order to clean some unclear or untrue entries). He believes that for employees it can also become useful namely in increasing their awareness of the importance of their individual and/or team’ work. The employees considered the tool needed usability improvement and that the piloting phase was too short to test it more realistically, however they also agreed it could be useful in a company after fully developed.

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