IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


Q&A with David Guile

David Guile is a Professor of Education and Work, and Co-Director of two research centres: Centre for Engineering Education, and the Centre for Post-14 Education and Work.

What is your role and what does it involve?
I am interested in changes in the world of work and the implications of these changes for professional and vocational formation throughout the life-course. Currently, I pursue this interest through undertaking interdisciplinary research on issues such as, learning in interprofessional project teams, networks and ecosystems and the human /machine interface predominantly in the engineering and creative sectors.

I have chosen these sectors because digitisation can be deployed to intertwine creativity and design in innovative ways that benefit people and societies economically and socially.

I use the outcomes of my research to assist employers, educational stakeholders and policymakers to better understand how to work together to support professional and vocational formation, and sustainable economic and social regeneration.

How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role?
Since 1993 - initially working with Professor Michael Young and other colleagues in the long departed, but fondly remembered, Post 16 Centre for Education where I led the first work-based learning project in IOE. The aim of that project was to identify the way in which educational institutions could support teachers in Further Education and trainers in the private sector to respond to technological and organisational change - sounds just like today!

Immediately prior to that, I had worked for BT, via the Headteachers into Industry Scheme, on a range of projects to support closer links between educational institutions and workplaces as well as local communities and employers to develop occupationally-relevant skills.

Tell us about a project you are working on now which is top of your to-do list.
Supporting the Centre for Engineering and Education (CEE) and the Post 14 Centre for Education and Work to work together to assist actors in the private and public sectors to understand why the emergence of machine learning has ushered in a new (beyond Marx, Delueze and Guattari, etc.,) conception of the human/machine relationship with significant implications for professional and vocational formation. 

Fortunately, I have a wonderful opportunity to do so through my teaching on the Engineering Education MSc. Here I co-lead the module 'Artificial Intelligence, Work and Learning’ with my Dr Jay Derrick. We combine our longstanding interest in skill development and learning with our more recent interest in machine learning to support students to understand the variety of economic, social and political challenges associated with the 4th Industrial Revolution as well as to develop the skills to support their future employability.

In addition, I am working with CEE and Post-14 colleagues to develop skills ecosystems with public, private and third sectors locally and globally to respond to this as well as the connected sustainability challenge.

What would it surprise people to know about you?
In 1973, I booked the first ever gig by the original Wailers in England at York University, only to discover in the week before the tour started that their agent had gazumped me by taking a booking for the night before they played York to maximise their tour income - I still remember his name!

What other piece of research outside your own subject area interests you?
Interests and worries: machine learning (I’m a cultural psychologist/sociologist interested in algorithmic development): the breakthroughs are simultaneously fascinating as regards to how they are being deployed to solve ‘wicked problems’ such as Covid, and deeply troubling because they are creating ‘surveillance’ capitalist and market socialist societies.