Previously workplace knowledge focused solely on technical knowledge, specific to the tasks in a job. But now skills such as communication, leadership, and individual responsibility are considered equally important to equip individuals with life long learning skills that encourage engagement with mind, body, and soul. The expectations inherent in new roles, confounded by uncertainty of the environment and the explosion of information technology, now challenge us to reconceptualise human cognition and develop education and training in a way that resonates with current knowledge and skills. One of the significant themes that is emerging from the redesigning of jobs is the contradictory yet legitimate nature of the roles and their associated values.
During the transition from feudal to capitalist societies workers struggled to conceptualize self as different from labor. It was difficult for "man" to reconceptualise labor as separate from individuals and a commodity, which could be sold for a fee. We now see parallels in the emerging workplaces. There are various tensions in the contemporary world of work such as those between global and local knowledge and performance; learning and work; institution and workplace-based training; self and organizational development, competition and collaboration and these impacts the role of individuals and context in developing knowledge and skills to function in current workplaces. We have, in the past, viewed opposing positions in such tensions as only being right or wrong and hence, many are still searching for an absolute black and white solution. Giddens and Delors both have written extensively on the emerging tensions and the need to consider ways of dealing with such dualistic/contradic tory positions. For example, in considering globalization Giddens argues that we now have new trans-national systems that have heightened competition for scarce resources while at the same time