Learning at Work Week starts on Monday 19 May. It provides a timely reminder of how important information literacy is to empowering learning and development in the workplace.
What is Learning at Work Week?
Learning at Work Week will be taking place 19th – 25th May 2014. The event allows companies to link up their internal training with a national event in order to promote training, learning and development in the workplace.
For 2014 the theme is 'Learning Connections' which invites companies to consider social learning in the workplace, this could be exploring inter-departmental challenges to managing job swaps. This theme of social learning may ring bells with information professionals as a form of knowledge management, harnessing tacit information for commercial advantage.
What is information literacy?
We all rely on information every day and knowing how to find, understand and use it is vital. In the workplace the importance of using information in an ethical matter is becoming more important. Organisations operating in a digital world have to comply with various data protection and data sharing regulations.
Information literacy is knowing when and why you need information, where to find it, and how to evaluate, use and communicate it in an ethical manner. It is a core skill taught by librarians and information professionals working in schools, public libraries and in the commercial and government sectors.
How does information literacy empower learning at work?
CILIP endorsed the Alexandria Proclamation on Information Literacy in 2011. It states that:
“Information Literacy lies at the core of lifelong learning. It empowers people in all walks of life to seek, evaluate, use and create information effectively to achieve their personal, social, occupational and educational goals. It is a basic human right in a digital world and promotes social inclusion of all nations.”
We know that library and information professionals play a hugely important role in helping to support this aspiration. However, we need to know more about what impact it has upon the individual and the organisation as a whole.
This year CILIP’s Information Literacy project will be looking at information literacy in the workplace and one of the first tasks is to start a discussion about what we mean by information literacy in the workplace.
We have heard of phrases such as “learning on the job” but in today’s more transient society people are more likely to change not only jobs but careers throughout their working lives.
CILIP’s Information Literacy Project Board is looking at current research into information literacy in the workplace, which will inform this relatively new area for us within the information literacy domain. For example, research conducted at Loughborough University [i] found that workplace staff need help and support with the interpersonal aspects of information gathering. Their findings show that, when trying to develop information handling skills, relationship building between people is just as important as focusing on specific information and learning tasks unique to a particular workplace.
How do companies benefit from promoting learning in the workplace?
To be a lifelong learner you need to have the motivation to learn and this is a challenge. The fact that we have a Learning at Work Week is testimony to the importance employers are increasingly attaching to workplace learning and its relationship to competitive advantage.
Research shows that one fifth of UK economic growth is due to improvements in employee skills and companies that invest in skills are more likely to succeed than those that don’t [ii].
Companies who have taken part in Learning at Work Week say that employees have a more positive and improved perception of learning and development in the workplace.
Other benefits for employers include:
- Encouraging discussion on how learning and development happens in the workplace and how employees can take advantage of new ways to learn
- Drawing on employees own knowledge, passions and interests to create engaging activities and wider sharing and collaboration in the workplace
- Bringing employees from different parts of the business together or partner organisations in to learn from each other
- Opportunities to discover and recognise internal talent
- Addressing workplace silos and bridging information gaps
- Highlighting business priorities, agendas and addressing change
How do I take part in Learning at Work Week?
If you are interested in organising a training event at your workplace to showcase how your information skills can unlock learning for other colleagues in your workplace, you can find out more on the Campaign for Learning website.
If your employer is already taking part in Learning at Work week, or if you are organising an activity as part of the event, then let us know @CILIPinfo or in the comments below.
How can I raise awareness of the importance of information literacy?
There are lots of ways to raise awareness:
- Follow @CILIPinfo on Twitter and tweet your support. Promote the importance of information literacy using the hashtag #infolit.
- Find out who your MP is and write to them using www.theyworkforyou.com.
- For more details on the work of CILIP’s Information Literacy Board see CILIP Information Literacy Project 2014
About the authors
Natasha Choolhun is a member of the CILIP Information Literacy Steering Board. She has worked as a law librarian in both the academic and commercial legal sector. Information Literacy is her professional area of interest. @NatashaChoolhun
Jacqueline May is Policy Officer at CILIP and manages the CILIP Information Literacy Project.
i. Dr Mark Hepworth and Marion Smith. Workplace information literacy for administrative staff in HE, [online] Available at: <https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/213... 15 May 2014]
ii. Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership. Five Three One. [online] Available at: <http://business.leedscityregio... [Accessed 15 May 2014].
Image credit: Learning at Work Week