Countdown to Learning at Work Day

The charity Campaign for Learning is
organising a national Learning at Work Day on 17 May to encourage employers and
employees alike to learn to love learning. Follow our guide to making the most
of the opportunity. By Stephanie Sparrow

Tuesday 8 May
Make that call

If you haven’t already done so, you
should be calling the Learning at Work Day information line on 0117 966 7755 to
register and to request free planning and publicity materials.

Campaign for Learning suggests that
the free posters are placed in staff restaurants, smoking rooms and other areas
where employees congregate, such as the washrooms.

Involve senior management

A key factor is to get the senior
management on board. Real inspiration for learning starts at the top, says the
charity. On previous Learning at Work Days, business leaders have job-swapped
with their staff or customers to learn more about working life in the other
person’s shoes.

Job-swappers have included
employment minister Baroness Blackstone, B&Q managing director Martin Toogood
and Warrington Borough Council chief executive Steve Broomhead.

This year the Campaign for Learning
is inviting leaders to complete a week’s learning diary to illustrate how we
all learn every day.

Keep staff in the picture

Make sure that all employees know
about Individual Learning Accounts. The incentive behind them is to overcome
financial barriers to learning.

If an individual invests £25 of
their own money the Government will make up the account to £150 that can be
spent on learning. Call the Individual Learning Account Centre on 0800 072 5678
for more information.

Wednesday 9 May
Plan a job-swap

Job-swapping and job-shadowing are
good, informal ways of learning. Benefits include improved communications
skills, support for career planning and experience in coaching and mentoring.

Examine information flows in your
organisation and suggest that departments who rely on each other for
information organise job-swaps on Learning at Work Day.

Thursday 10 May
Promote language learning

This year has been designated
European Year of Languages. Why not introduce the concept of language learning
in a non-threatening way?

Ideas from the Campaign for Learning
include contacting the catering manager to offer a themed menu on other
national cuisines on 17 May and backing up this initiative with a display in
the staff restaurant on course information from local providers on where staff
can learn the related languages locally.

Friday 11 May
Publicise your events

Make sure that you have told the
Campaign for Learning that you are getting involved in Learning at Work Day.
The planning guide has a faxback form you can use. If you do not have a copy
simply fax your organisation’s details to Learning at Work Day on 020-7930
1552, saying what you are doing to support the day.

The campaign is targeting both local
and national media to generate publicity for Learning at Work Day and will be
highlighting the organisations that are taking part.

Monday 14 May  
Run a culture check

Find out if your organisation really
supports learning as part of everyday working life. Check out the Learning
Climate quiz on the campaign’s website. Invite colleagues to do that quiz and
find out the reasons behind any scores vastly different from your own.

Tuesday 15 May
Look out for special offers

Many providers are joining in, such
as e-learning provider iLearn.To, which has offered a free corporate
e-university to every organisation getting involved. See our guide opposite.

Wednesday 16 May
Diagnose your learning style and improve it

Visit Peter Honey’s website at to discover what sort of learner you are. Understanding your
learning style can make you become a more effective learner.

Thursday 17 May
Study what works

Find out what suits the people in
your organisation and apply it throughout the year. At least one of the
following themes should be in evidence at your organisation today:

– Creating a learning climate in the
workplace to enable informal learning that is integrated to people’s real work

– Encourage leaders to be learners
by including job shadowing

– Look at low-cost learning,
including e-learning

– Learning how to learn

learning areas can you promote?

Kick-starting an enthusiasm for
learning depends on how you present the concept to staff. Here are some
suggestions that should encourage their buy-in

Improve communication

Skills such as
giving clear explanations and listening are still overlooked in organisations,
but are essential to making working life run more smoothly.  Try running a training session where an
expert explains a task to a non-expert who then has to pass on the instruction
to another non-expert.  If communication
breaks down, try to analyse the language that may be causing the problem.  Free access to online communication courses
will be available on the day from Skillsoft. For more information visit

Tackle stress management

A recent survey commissioned by the
International Stress Management Association and Royal Sun Alliance suggests
that 70 per cent of adults experience stress at work (compared with 60 per cent
in 1999).  Imaginative
ideas from the Campaign for Learning include inviting a feng shui consultant in
to advise on creating a stress-free work environment and on how to conduct the
art at home, and running a lunchtime workshop on dealing with stress.

Encourage learning skills

Use Learning at Work Day to help
employees recognise how they learn best. The Campaign for Learning recommends
using its Learning Climate quiz to assess the learning culture within an
organisation. More information is available from the Campaign’s Call Centres.  It also wants to see a greater emphasis on
individual learning plans and learning diaries. 

Boost computer abilities

The day brings a useful opportunity
to encourage competence and confidence in computer skills.  If you have a systems department, hold a
training event on how your organisation’s systems work or you could try a
lunchtime skill-swap session at which people share useful  techniques. 
Organisations that benefited from this approach in the past include
Coventry City Council, whose staff were offered free taster sessions by ICT
Centre at Coventry Central Library, and the Benefits Agency, which organised
sessions including learning about the internet.

Coach financial awareness

Many people lack confidence about
financial matters, whether its calculating VAT or balancing budgets.  The Campaign for Learning suggests offering
guidance to savings, investments, insurance and tax or even facilitating
numeracy with taster sessions such as Working With Numbers and Budgeting
Basics, which can be found on the learndirect website,  Last year some companies held lunchbreak
sessions for their staff such as “Payslips Explained”.

access to learning resources


Free online French, German and
Italian language courses will be available from iLearn.To on Learning at Work
Day.  Online French and
Spanish courses are also available from Encarta Language Learning.  www.iLearn.To

Communication courses

Free access to online communication
and interpersonal courses is being offered by Skillsoft on Learning at Work
Day. The e-learning provider is offering free access to courses such as The
Many Faces of Communication and The Customer-Driven Organisation.Free guides on
communicating in plain English are also available from the Plain English Campaign.

Financial awareness

learndirect and the Plain English
Campaign offer activities in this area, including budgeting and pensions.

Computer skills

BBC WebWise is an online,
step-by-step guide to the basics of the Internet. It is a comprehensive 10-hour
course with in-built, online assessment .

Learning ability

The Campaign for Learning offers
material such as The Smarter Learning Guide and A Learning Diary Template,
based on Peter Honey’s Learning Log. These are available from the Campaign’s
call centre on 0117 966 7755. The charity is also making its Learning for Work
series of work books available at 40 per cent off the normal prices and this
special offer is accessible through the website.

Virtual universities

Employers who are interested in
exploring the potential of e-learning can take advantage of Learning at Work
Day sponsors iLearn.To’s special offer to create their own virtual university.
Once organisations have set up their own online corporate university, employees
will have unlimited access to all iLearn.To courses for a fee of just £25 each.

Trying for a job-swap

For tips on getting involved in a
job-shadow or swap contact Webswappers.

Stress management

Opportunities for stress management
sessions throughout 17 May are being offered by Channel 4 is
discussing the origins of stress during the week.

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