Ten percent of people working in the electronics and telecom sector have not read a book for pleasure in the last year. During the same 12 month period, 35 percent had not learnt a new activity or indulged in a new hobby either. According to the Department For Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) in the UK, an encouraging 60 percent did think that learning a new skill or taking up a new hobby would make them more confident at work. Photography led the way, with 18 percent wanting to learn that and 11 percent showing an interest in taking up martial arts.
Ben Fletcher, Occupational and Health Psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire says "a mere 8 percent of people working in the electronics and telecommunications sectors say they aren’t interested in learning a new skill, so the big barriers are likely to be around access. 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. This research reveals that we now need to take the next step – do something different and break the habit of inertia that prevents us from getting more from our lives and gives something back to society too."
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 £30 million during 2009/10 to support informal adult learning under the banner of The Learning Revolution. This initiative 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.
Kevin Brennan, Minister for Further Education and Skills, says "informal learning keeps people mentally and physically active, and is also great for meeting others and making friends. Craft classes, knitting circles and family history projects are all looking for places to meet, so it's good to see more and more organisations providing space for them to do this. But there's so much more that can be done. 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."