The skills learned while raising a family are readily transferable into the knowledge work environment, according to a study published in the International Journal of Knowledge and Learning.
Researchers in Spain suggest that breaching the boundary between parenting skills and conventional work skills represents not only an untapped human resource but could improve work-life balance for working parents.
Eva Rimbau-Gilabert and David Miyar-Cruz of the Department of Business and Economy at the Open University of Catalonia in Barcelona, and José María López-de Pedro of the Centro Universitario Villanueva in Madrid, Spain, suggest that current attitudes are in conflict with the potential for change and improvement in the working environment. They explain that the recognition of skills learned in family life are not mutually exclusive with the skills required of knowledge workers in the workplace.
"The development of the knowledge society has imposed new requirements on workers, who need to continuously acquire new skills and responsibilities and adapt their prior knowledge to new demands," Rimbaut-Gilabert says. "For this reason, lifelong learning has become a basic principle in education and is described as an essential tool to face the current social and economic challenges."
The team has now reviewed the business and human resources research literature and found that two important skills learned informally while raising a family are equally applicable in the knowledge work setting. Those skills are flexible thinking and allocentric thinking. These are exactly the kinds of multitasking, organisational, interpersonal, and team skills that are desirable in the complex world of knowledge services.
"If this idea is accepted in organisational contexts, it is to be expected that knowledge-based economies would stop disproportionately rewarding the intellectual abilities obtained through university degrees and begin to grant economic and social recognition to other tacit cognitive abilities developed through means other than formal education," Rimbaut-Gilabert.
More information: "Breaking the boundary between personal- and work-life skills: parenting as a valuable experience for knowledge workers" in the International Journal of Knowledge and Learning, 2009, 5, 1-13
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