How 3 Coworking Spaces Are Tapping Into Lifelong Learning

How three coworking spaces are responding to the skills gap by making lifelong learning more accessible.
  • In the future of work, businesses are expected to face a major shortage in skills and homegrown talent.
  • The push for ‘lifelong learning’ is gaining traction in a bid to equip individuals with the skills and knowledge they need.
  • 3 coworking spaces in London are responding to the skills gap by making lifelong learning accessible to the wider community.

“Lifelong learning” has become a buzz phrase of late, and not just in the higher education sector. Lifelong learning initiatives are designed to equip individuals with the skills and knowledge they need to lead fulfilled lives, both professionally and personally. 

You could argue that the lifelong learning trend was inspired by the notion that, for the innovation economy to thrive, learning must be ongoing. We’re constantly developing new business models, forms of production, products and services, and need to upskill as we go.

The Open University’s annual Business Barometer report provides insight into the skills landscape of the UK. Its 2019 edition reveals that over two-thirds (68%) of UK employers struggled to find skilled workers over the 12 month period. 

Almost half (48%) hired temporary staff to plug gaps, while 44% spent more than expected on recruitment fees.

In decades past, many companies bought talent externally as opposed to building it from within. The report shows that 61% believe they will now have to focus on the latter if they want to gain access to the skills and expertise they need to compete effectively.

“Employers are spending more than £6 billion a year on the skills shortage, predominantly through recruitment activities, but buying skills and not building them is a short-term approach, which ultimately won’t pay dividends. It is crucial that organisations take a more sustainable approach, using training to address their skills gaps from within and reducing their spend in the long-term.” – David Willett, Corporate Director at The Open University on the 2018 report findings.

Over the last few years, we’ve noticed a rise in the number of coworking spaces integrating lifelong learning into their offering in one way or another. The following spaces are leading the way when it comes to making lifelong learning accessible to the wider community.

1. Space 4 in Finsbury Park – opened 2018

Space4 is a new tech-focused coworking space that runs on a pay-what-you-can model. As well as affordable deskspace, Space4 runs regular training sessions for both its members and the wider community, including free adult learning courses in digital skills.

Maddy Neghabian, who leads on marketing at Space4, explains:

“At SPACE4, lifelong learning is pretty central in everything we do. We encourage our members to share their skills and knowledge during workshops and events. They gain confidence from sharing what they know, as well as learning something new.

“We also make these skills sessions open to our local community in Finsbury Park, even if they’re not members. This means we’re multiplying our impact, and making it all as accessible as possible to everyone. Our main focus is on delivering digital skills, and the skills needed to establish and run an ethical business.

“We work in partnership with Founders and Coders who run a free 18-week bootcamp that teaches people the skills to start their career in web development. 

“After they graduate, they come back to help teach the course, and remain part of the community, contributing to the cycle of lifelong learning. Founders and Coders also run evening short-courses for people who want to get a taste for web development.”

A Founders and Coders session in Space4

2. Stillpoint Spaces London in Clerkenwell – opened 2017

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Stillpoint Spaces London is London’s first — and as far as we know only — flexible workspace designed for practitioners working in the field of psychology, as well as people from other sectors who want to work in a psychologically-attuned coworking environment.

The ground floor contains consulting rooms while the first features an open plan coworking area which doubles up as event space, and a psychology library/meeting room.

Digital Marketing Manager, Rashida Taylor explains:

“At Stillpoint Spaces our main aim is to explore psychology in depth. Our events tackle ‘hot topics’ from a psychological perspective, which is important in today’s digital times, where the world seems to move very quickly, and social media can create distance between our relationships with others and even our relationships with ourselves.”

Events include recurring online supervision groups, art exhibitions, deep mindful writing sessions, workshops and CPD sessions.

Opening of ‘Holding Structures, Carrying Sanctuary’ exhibition by Pippa Thomas

3. Creative Works in Walthamstow – opened 2018

Creative Works joined forces with local further education skills training provider, Big Creative Training and Academy in 2018 to offer an apprenticeship initiative to its members. The operator offers a free desk for members taking on an apprentice, and employers with PAYE bills under £3m are entitled to 90% of their apprenticeship training costs by the government. 

Michael Roberts, BCE’s apprenticeship manager.

Managing Director, Alexis Michaelides, explains:

“The journey began in 1999, when I first started teaching event promotions to a small group of young people on a housing estate in Waltham Forest. 

“Nearly twenty years on and not only are we changing lives through Big Creative Training and Academy (BCE) but we can now extend our vision through the launch of Creative Works, a shared workspace and community for the 21st century in the heart of East London.”

Creative Works also provides lifelong learning opportunities for members in the form of free 1:1 business advice clinics on topics ranging from business finance to HR and employment. 

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As the lifelong learning movement continues to gain traction, we expect to see more coworking operators tapping into it to attract new members and diversify revenue streams.

If you’re embracing lifelong learning and would like to share your story, do get in touch with Kate: [email protected]

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