Where learning is concerned, most people immediately think of the studies they did at school, college or university. But it doesn’t – and shouldn’t – have to stop there.

“Investment in learning pays dividends across all spheres of public life, stimulating prosperity, improving health, engaging citizens, reducing offending and bringing communities together,” says Campaign for Learning’s Tricia Hartley. “It is vital to quality of life and wellbeing.”

This year Campaign for Learning’s Learning at Work Week, which runs from May 18-24, aims to highlight the importance of workplace learning and skills. But what is learning at work exactly?

Most of us remember what it was like to be in full-time education, however long we’ve been away from it. But the big difference with learning at work is that it’s self-directed. That means it’s up to you to decide what you want to learn and when, rather than being guided by parents, teachers, tutors, professors or even employers.

Of course most employees are learning all the time at work in an organic sense. We learn when we ask a colleague or manager a question about doing our job, or when we pay attention to how others more experienced than ourselves operate. Sometimes we may simply stumble on new ways of carrying out aspects of our jobs or discover new information by ourselves. Isn’t that learning too?

Indeed it is. But besides organic learning, there are lots of other opportunities for learning in the workplace. In fact there are many different ways to learn at work – here are just some of the types of learning that you may want to look into:

Degrees and diplomas

If you want to earn more professional qualifications, there are several options. Foundation degrees are university-level employment-focused courses that offer a blend of academic and work-based learning. There are more than 3,000 different Foundation degree courses currently available: find one by searching the UCAS website.

Other professional qualifications you could study for while working include higher national diplomas and NVQs Level 4 and 5.

Continuing professional development (CPD)

CPD courses are smaller chunks of flexible learning designed to help you keep developing your career. There are many different types of CPD courses – including online, group and one-to-one learning – on a huge variety of subjects, including the free personal and professional development courses run by CABA. Many colleges and universities also offer CPD short courses that you can do while you work.

Coaching and mentoring

These are often informal arrangements between individuals and those with relevant experience who can help others to improve their skills as well as offer general support. There is a distinction between the two: coaching usually involves helping you to develop ways of helping yourself, whereas mentoring can mean guiding your career and development. Ask your manager if there are arrangements for coaching or mentoring in your workplace. Alternatively, you may want to consider offering your services as a coach or mentor if you have experience or skills you could pass on to others.

Online learning

There are thousands of courses you can do online, most of which allow you to work at your own pace and in your own time. This means you’re not restricted to a physical classroom, and you can study when it’s convenient rather than at any set time – which may be essential if you have a full-time job.

Online books and articles

The internet is also a vast resource of written materials designed for workplace learning, much of which won’t cost you a penny.

Bookboon.com offers accounting books on a range of topics that you can download for free, as well as many other subjects including economics and finance, languages and personal development.

FreeBookCentre.net also offers a section on business and finance books, which includes subjects such as accounting, economics, finance and financial planning (among many others).

Or you could try e-booksdirectory.com, which also offers many free books to download, including accountancy and business tiles, as well as many more.

What are the benefits?

Learning has numerous benefits in many different areas. But in terms of improving your working life, some of the benefits are as follows:

  • It improves your performance at work
  • It gives you better chances of promotion
  • It can boost your confidence and credibility
  • It helps you achieve your career goals
  • It may also help with job or career change
  • It can help you earn further qualifications and skills
  • It helps with personal as well as work-based development
  • It can also motivate you at work and make you more interested in your job

For advice and information call +44 (0) 1788 556 366 or chat to an advisor online 24 hours a day.

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