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Cath Everett

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‘Cafe culture’ learning needed, says skills minister


Skills Minister John Hayes has called on UK business to promote informal learning at work, following pledges by 64 large brands to boost workers’ skills as part of a so-called ‘Cafe Culture’ campaign.

The initiative was launched last year by membership organisation Business in the Community (BiC) on behalf of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).
The aim is to promote good practice among employers, not least by encouraging staff to work together in teams to boost their skills and think more creatively. The concept involves creating a cafe-style culture, where people meet informally to share ideas in a relaxed environment.
Organisations that have signed up to date include Barclays Bank, Channel 4, McDonalds and Google.
Hayes said: “Businesses have a pivotal role in promoting adult learning, and so have a unique opportunity to change, and indeed improve, people’s lives. In turn, they can reap the harvest of a productive and engaged workforce.”
BiC and BIS have also launched a document entitled ‘Building the Cafe Culture Movement’, which includes case studies and guidance on how to implement such schemes.
In related news, Southampton City College plans to launch a series of part-time evening workshops and short courses in a bid to promote adult learning for pleasure rather than work.
The part-time courses, which start next month, will range from photography and art and design to beauty therapy, but the College has also promised to run courses in requested areas as long as there is enough interest to ensure that its costs are covered.
Chief executive and principal Lindsey Noble said: “While City College’s main focus is to arm people with the skills they need to further their career, we also aim to help people of all ages to develop themselves and their hobbies.”


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