By Claire West

Skills Minister John Hayes has called on all UK businesses to promote informal learning at work, following pledges from sixty-four innovative companies to increase informal workplace training for their staff.

These companies, including 11 from the FTSE 350, represent nearly two million employees. They formed part of a recent ‘Café Culture’ campaign run by Business in the Community on behalf of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) to improve workers’ skills.

They include:

*Barclays Bank
*Channel 4
*McDonald’s Restaurants

The central aim of 'Cafe Culture' is to promote good practice among employers, so BIS and Business in the Community have today published 'Building the Cafe Culture Movement' to help other organisations to see the benefits of informal adult learning at work.

The resource includes case studies showing how successful companies have seen the business benefits of informal learning, alongside guidance on how to follow in their footsteps.

John 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.

"The many household names that have pledged to push informal workplace learning through the Café Culture campaign is testament to the value they place on developing new skills.

"I am delighted to see such positive results and look forward to seeing adult learning continue to grow at work."

The 'Cafe Culture' campaign, which has been running since 2009, has involved a wide range of sectors, including manufacturing, finance, construction, utilities and food and drink companies.

It took its inspiration from the idea of a wider cafe culture, where people meet informally to share ideas in a fun and relaxed environment. By translating this to an office environment, the intention has been to encourage people to work together as teams to support creativity and improve skills.