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National Learning at Work Day

National Learning at Work Day logo

Today is National Learning at Work Day. Through just one day of workplace learning, co-ordinators the Campaign for Learning, hope employers will begin to see the business benefits of staff development.

Thousands of organisations will be trying out ideas from job swaps and IT sessions to more creative activities like circus skills. The Halifax, Birmingham International Airport, British Gas, T-Mobile, the Inland Revenue, Nationwide, the London School of Economics have all signed up.

Nestle will be running taster sessions delivered by everyone from the shop floor to managers and ranging from Asian Wedding customs to IT sessions. Employees can drop in during work hours on anything that interests them. The Day is just part of Nestle's wider commitment to staff development, with their onsite learning centre offering work and non-work related courses all year round.

National Learning at Work Day 2003 was a great success with around one million employees being given the chance to break from routine and try their hand at everything from salsa dancing to chocolate tasting. All types of organisations hosted learning activities up and down the country, including private companies, county councils, government departments, voluntary organisations, NHS trusts and small businesses.

Campaign for Learning Chief Executive, Susie Parsons said, "Every year's Learning at Work Day reaches more and more employees, giving them the chance to break from routine and learn new skills that will help them at work and in their own lives. The energy, enthusiasm and excitement for learning generated on the day is exceptional."

Jeremy Spake

TV presenter Jeremy Spake (right) experienced life as a firefighter at Birmingham International Airport on Learning at Work Day 2003. Jeremy's job swap was just one of the activities that took place at the busy airport for staff and passengers as part of the Midlands regional launch.

Halifax plc was one of the big name organisations showing commitment to staff training by hosting a range of learning activities in offices all over the country. There was something for everyone at Halifax with fun learning topics like road safety, a blind assault course, flower arranging, golf and yoga to name but a few of the taster sessions on offer. There were more work orientated sessions as well including presentations skills, financial literacy, IT training and team building.

Le Meridien Hotels got into the groove for Learning at Work Day with salsa dancing experiences at nearly all their London hotels. At the Cumberland Hotel, Marble Arch, staff were treated to a Mexican feast before hitting the dance floor for a quick lesson in salsa dancing during their lunch hour.

Knowsley Borough Council, which is part of the Campaign's Equal workplace learning research project, hosted the Beatles inspired "All You Need is Team Work" experience with taster sessions on Reiki, Spanish, basic car maintenance and art. There was also a cook off, quizzes, a fruit stall, health checks and a book stall for staff. The Chief Executive and Directors at Falkirk Council went "back to the floor" for the Day to experience what life is like for their employees. Staff were also able to shadow one of the managers or one of their colleagues to help improve organisational relationships and discover new ways of working.

The Inland Revenue ran a whole host of activities in nearly all its offices throughout the country. Staff members were given the opportunity to learn something new on the Day whether it was business related like IT workshops, job shadowing and in-house training opportunities or more light-hearted activities like belly dancing which still have a serious message of learning behind them.

Doncaster and South Humberside Healthcare NHS Trust was one of several Trust taking part this year and hosted a roadshow with activities ranging from Japanese counting and chocolate tasting to creative writing and learning styles quizzes. In the voluntary sector over 50 staff at the Swansea Council for Voluntary Services took part in a treasure hunt.

Small firms had a big part in Learning at Work Day. GMAC-RFC, a small mortgage lender in Bracknell, organised a company wide paper chain where each team member completed the sentence "Did you know that …" . Marlborough Stirling Mortgage Services, in the West Midlands, discovered the hidden talents of their workforce included Russian, ballroom dancing and judo when they invited staff to give 15 minute taster sessions on subjects of their choice.

Learning at Work Day is sponsored by the Learning and Skills Council, the Department of Trade and Industry, the NHSU, Learndirect and the Get On Campaign.

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