EXTENDING PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT FROM THE WORKPLACE THROUGH JOINT UNIVERSITY PROGRAM: A CASE OF APPAREL MANUFACTURING
, L.K. Chan2
1The University of Hong Kong (HONG KONG)
2The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (HONG KONG)
Full-time employees can continue improving their performance through the on-the-job training or studying part time while working full time. Through the modes of learning, employees can gain theories or practical skills, but they may not have the opportunity to learn international professional practices. The case is to report a cooperative educational programme offering for employees of a company who attended the program full time in order to raise the professional standards and increase awareness of international standards in the apparel manufacturing industry. This paper examined the learning experience of the employees who were selected from different levels of rankings of the company. The program was composed of modules that were offered by a university in Hong Kong and some modules offered by two overseas universities. The Institute of Textiles and Clothing from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University was to offer some modules of the program.
We will discuss some of the learning experiences of students participating in ‘Basic Apparel Construction’. It aimed to provide foundation knowledge of apparel making techniques which were essential for the construction of apparel products. This was to prepare students for further study in more advanced modules concerning apparel technology and apparel production. Generally, courses offered in university may be perceived as theory driven. However, theories in practice are more importance when preparing for employees who have had a range of practical experiences. Therefore, a variety of learning modes designed to cater for the diverse needs including interactive lectures and practical-based workshops. In workshops, demonstration on garment making up techniques was conducted and trainees had hands-on practice on garment assembling process so as to enhance the application of apparel construction. This interactive approach offered better opportunities for the trainees to gain hands-on experience as well as theoretical understanding of the principles to meet the various commercial demands in the marketplace.
Having released from job and shifting to full-time studying, the trainees who were as students were challenged not on the procedural practice in the workplace, but they had to review their current practice and reframe what differences and how apparel manufacturing industry could make a chance through revisiting both the basic concepts and the introduction of new technology. As students were required doing a project in the module, they had to work with peers who might have different working experiences and different positions and levels of the company. Each project was then presented and critiqued by other project teams. As there were no power differences between project members, given that they were students of the module, the authors are to explore how this type of learning partners can contribute to enhancement of evaluative ability and extension of both professional knowledge and skills. A paper-based survey was conducted by the end of the module, and quality of project work was examined to triangulate with the comments provided by project team.