On March 29-30, 2012, 11 delegates from LO, The Swedish Trade Union Confederation, visited the School of Management and Labor Relations (SMLR) to learn about how trade union members’ work experience and training can be translated into college credits.
|Delegates from LO-Sweden with representatives from Rutgers SMLR. See additional photos on Facebook.|
SMLR Acting Dean Sue Schurman facilitated the seminar and guest speakers included:
· Betsy Feliciano-Berrios, Assistant Dean, Recruitment & Student Services at Rutgers University
· Jeanine Nagrod, Program Director, NJ Place
· Regina Riccioni, Director, Center for Academic Program Reviews, Thomas Edison State College
· Marc Singer, Vice Provost, Collegiate Credit Assessment Center, Thomas Edison State College
· Professor Paula Voos, Director, SMLR’s Undergraduate and Master’s Programs in Labor and Employment Relations
In Sweden, where the majority of both blue and white collar workers are union members, LO organizes workers in both the public and private sector. Ulla Lindquist, vice-president of LO-Sweden, stressed the need for Swedish trade unions to increase union members’ training opportunities and establish good systems for measuring their skills.
“Some unions have begun the discussion on assessment, both for individuals and for the system itself, but we need more,” says Lindquist.
SMLR Professor Paula Voos and Assistant Dean Betsy Feliciano-Berrios gave insight into ways in which LO can address these challenges. They used SMLR’s support of non-traditional students—typically older students who are seeking to earn credits and complete their college degree after a break in their education—as a framework for the delegates. Similarly, Jeanine Nagrod discussed how NJPlace utilizes apprenticeships as a pathway towards obtaining a college degree.
“Unions cannot represent workers in the 21st century without helping them gain access to skill development,” says Schurman.
Tommy Thunberg Bertolone, a LO delegate from the Swedish Metalworkers Union and steel industry worker, who has worked in factories since the age of 16 was impressed by Marc Singer and Regina Riccioni’s discussion on Thomas Edison State College’s approach to assessing experience and training.
“I thought Thomas Edison was very interesting and helpful in showing how we should look at skill competence and degrees. It’s important to validate work experience because more skills will lead to better jobs,” says Thunberg.
Bosse Carselid, a fellow delegate, once worked as a postman and computer teacher before becoming involved in LO. He is looking forward to continued discussions on the information obtained from Rutgers SMLR and Thomas Edison State College.
“We can take back what we learned and see what we can do in Sweden. Maybe we can mirror what Rutgers and Thomas Edison is doing,” says Carselid.
|LO's Carina Persson explains her group's experiences to attendees.|