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Construction workers lack access to learning new skills

Construction workers are keen to learn new skills and activities but lack opportunities to do so, the Department For Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has said.

Three in ten construction and manual labourers haven’t learnt a new activity or hobby, while 15% haven’t read a book for pleasure during the past 12 months, according to new research from the BIS.

Encouragingly, workers within the construction sector were enthusiastic about learning something new, with 39% saying they felt that learning a new skill or hobby would make them more confident at work. The thing they would most like to learn is photography (26%), followed by dance (13%).

“The big barriers are likely to be around access.”

Ben Fletcher, University of Hertfordshire

University of Hertfordshire occupational and health psychologist Ben Fletcher said it is important for workers to break the “habit of inertia” and do something different.

“Only 14% of construction and manual labourers say they aren’t interested in learning a new skill, so the big barriers are likely to be around access,” he said.

“As such, new learning opportunities are great news for the millions of people who want to broaden their horizons. People really grow from informal learning, both personally and professionally. “

The Learning Revolution programme, launched by the BIS last year, seeks to offer adults the opportunity to develop their skills and knowledge further through informal adult learning, allowing them to make the most of their spare time. The Government is urging public, private and voluntary sector organisations to open their spaces for informal learning.

Learning revolution

Minister for further education and skills Kevin Brennan said: “Informal learning keeps people mentally and physically active, and is also great for meeting others and making friends.

“Offices, libraries, pubs and galleries could all provide free or low cost meeting places either occasionally or on a regular basis. We want to see even more spaces opened up to help create an ‘open space’ movement that can benefit everyone.”

Last year a BIS consultation found that people were keen to take up learning opportunities if they were made available and easy to find. Following the consultation the Government committed an additional £30M during 2009/10 to support informal adult learning under the banner of The Learning Revolution.

The BIS findings come as the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) becomes the latest organisation to open up spaces for The Learning Revolution, with new opportunities planned around the country for accessible, affordable learning.

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