Perhaps because "learning" is my work, and the group I have been studying is also in the "learning" business, I don't see that there is a problem with workers being motivated to learn. Perhaps the problem is more identifying and measuring worker learning.
With very few exceptions, workers are learning every day as their situation changes. There is continually new technology, new policies, new problems, new co-workers, new clients and customers, that a worker faces and needs to adapt to. The problem is that companies want their workers to learn new discreet information that may not apply (at that time or ever) to those situations that face workers every day.
I feel there needs to be a better way of preparing workers for learning and better measures for the informal learning workers do as they adapt to new situations.
For example, when I worked as a market researcher for the natural gas industry, I picked up a lot of information not only about how the pipelines were connected and which companies used natural gas and those that did not, I also learned a lot about the "politics" of the energy industry. Even now, as I hear about the price of oil, the price of gas, the effect of hurricanes on the energy industry, there are also a deeper understanding of the relationship between consumers, suppliers, developers, refiners, and transporters (pipelines, ships, trucks, etc...).
This understanding of the politics, however, was not recognized until I left the job and those in charge suddenly became concerned that I was leaving and taking this information with me, something that could not be contained in the computer or even passed on to other workers. The problem, as I see it, was the bosses were measuring my learning using performance data (# of phone calls made, # of completed questionnaires). They did not recognize that the conversations I had with interviewees were learning moments for me, developing my understanding of the industry (which I had no knowledge of before starting the job).
So this is what I would suggest we start looking at (and asking workers to document) to assess their learning:
- New understanding of the industry in which they work
- Prediction of where their work will be in the next quarter
- Summary of resources (personal, written, electronic) they they use during a given time period
- New skills or techniques they learned during the quarter
- New contacts they made during the quarter
- Suggestion of the areas they would like to learn more about and why
The problem is to convince management to reward this type of learning and to have workers take the time out to document their (informal) learning.