Originally known as Adult Learners’ Week, the Festival of Learning takes place from 18-24 June and is an annual celebration of lifelong learning in England. Now in its twenty-sixth year, the festival’s principal aims are to champion the cause of adult education and show people that they’re never too old to learn something new – values that are wholeheartedly endorsed by Spire HR.
Managing Director Ellen Parkin MCIPD said: “Working in the HR industry, it’s fundamental to take part in lifelong learning in order to keep up to date with current legislation and employment law changes. Broadening one’s knowledge base is a practice that is actively encouraged by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), as well as being a standard requirement for Continuing Professional Development (CPD).
‘I’m an advocate for continuous learning – having achieved my CIPD qualification in 2006 after attending evening classes in order to continue working at the same time. In 2011, I completed an Employment Law distance-learning course, as I was keen to further develop my skillset. From first-hand experience, I recognise the importance of the Festival of Learning and the powerful messages it works so hard to convey.”
As part of this year’s celebrations, the festival has designated June as ‘Have a Go Month’. Their website – www.festivaloflearning.co.uk – offers learners the opportunity to research a range of organisations providing free taster sessions, where turning up and having a go at something of interest could be a life-changing decision. To make the online experience as user-friendly as possible, a calendar makes it easy to see what’s going on within a particular area of the country; additionally, planning and promotional resources are available for any organisations wishing to participate.
“The resources the website offers – and especially the concept of ‘Have a Go Month’ – are really positive,” added Ellen. “Many career paths, such as those into the medical and legal professions, require adults to learn on a regular basis, but I believe that many other industries should become advocates for continuous learning and development. Whether it be acquiring a new skill or gaining some assistance with a current role, there’s so many benefits to learning; for me personally, I feel a sense of achievement and that I can stay ahead of the game.”
Ellen’s desire for more industries to take up the mantle of becoming advocates for workplace learning is arguably heading in the right direction, with the introduction of the Apprentice Levy in April last year. The levy is supporting businesses now more than ever to invest in their respective workforces to facilitate necessary learning opportunities, with no upper age limit in place to be an apprentice.
All employers operating in the UK with a wage bill of more than £3m will pay the levy at a rate of 0.5 percent of the wage bill (from £3m upwards); for companies paying the levy, they need to fully utilise the levy pot before it is released back into central funding after 24 months.