The Advice Skills Academy (ASA) is a partnership of advice giving organisations across the Liverpool City Region. ASA aims to co-ordinate and promote Learning & Development (L & D) and build workplace learning cultures across the partnership. Its members include six Citizens Advice organisations, Raise (an independent advice agency) and managing agent The Women’s Organisation who are the largest training and development organisation targeted at women in the UK.

For Learning at Work Week, ASA set out to achieve three main objectives.

First it aimed to build workplace learning cultures by providing L&D opportunities to a wide range of staff and volunteers in formats that fit with colleagues workloads.

Second, it wanted to build workplace wellbeing to help reduce sickness absence, improve retention and provide support for staff. Staff at advice organisations operate in an environment with an increasing demand for services and clients who present with complex advice needs, which can lead to very high workloads.

Third, ASA looked to promote a 70:20:10 approach to learning to improve the range of workplace learning that takes place, and increase the sharing of skills and knowledge amongst colleagues and between organisations.

The partners worked together to plan, develop and promote activities based on a ‘Shaping your future’ theme. The activities were designed to fit the needs of each unique organisation, but used shared resources to maximise their impact. Drawing on evaluations, the partners identified learning linked to common job roles in their organisations that helps people do their jobs better. A focus on this meant they could maximise the number of people taking part and the usefulness of the learning.

The partners also shared publicity and learning resources that they found had inspired learning both generally and for their previous Learning at Work Week. By working together and involving people who had participated in Learning at Work Week the year before, they were able to build a buzz about the Week and promote a positive view of learning.

Whilst activities for the week varied for each partner, all included a mix of work-related and just-for-interest learning. There were group activities, online learning, lunchtime activities, advice related learning, learning about wellbeing, and craft and hobby sessions. The aim was to help colleagues learn together and recognise and share each other’s skills, knowledge and interests.

Colleagues for instance could take part in a Bake Off, find out about employment law and early conciliation, learn about music and art therapy and check their numeracy skills as part of a broad programme of fun and informative learning.

The week was publicised in the ASA newsletter in the months leading up to the week, on notice boards, in emails and on twitter. Colleagues promoted the events verbally in team meetings and through talking to peers which encouraged people who hadn’t taken part before to participate. Partners displayed inspirational quotes to inspire colleagues to think about learning and its importance for the future such as the Chinese proverb ‘Learning is a treasure that follows its owner everywhere’.

Colleagues reported that learning during Learning at Work Week has led to a range of outcomes, from helping them do their job to opportunities to reflect on the learning they’ve done and how they learn. The week has helped partners continue to build a learning culture at work. A majority of participants say they are more positive about learning more generally and that their work performance has benefited from the learning they have done. Half are now proactively looking for more learning opportunities. Colleagues are thinking more widely about learning approaches and seeking to share their skills and knowledge. As one participant put it “Wish we could have Learning at Work Week more often. I really enjoyed it”.