Britons prefer on-the-job learning to the government's preferred method of skills improvement, a survey claims.
A poll carried out by the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) showed 82 per cent of the UK's workers getting the most out of learning while working. Sixty-two per cent favoured demonstrative learning while 56 per cent said they benefited from observing others.
By contrast the least popular methods of learning are those which the government favours, the NIACE claims. Reading books and manuals attracted the support of 39 per cent while using the internet at 29 per cent was also relatively unpopular.
"There is powerful evidence in the survey that the British preference for less formal ways of learning remains deeply ingrained," NIACE director Alan Tuckett said.
"Government should recognise this, by encouraging a culture of learning and reflective practice in workplaces alongside its drive to secure an increasingly qualified workforce," he added.
The survey also found that employees accepted their own responsibility for developing their skills. Only 21 per cent of respondents said their employer was mainly responsible for learning at work.
Responding to the survey, a Department for Education and Skills (DfES) spokesperson admitted that "different people have different styles".
"Growing pressures at work and more complex lifestyles means learning must be delivered in ways that suit individuals. This government has repeatedly stressed the need to develop a learning culture to carry forward our skills strategy," the spokesperson said.
Last December Lord Leitch published his final report into the UK's long-term skills needs in which he warned Britain's economy would suffer without major reforms of the training and skills sector.
The government is currently preparing its action plan to implement his proposals. Mr Tuckett said the survey suggested that these plans "should give priority to trusting and supporting workers to identify their own development needs".
The DfES spokesperson added: "Learning must embrace skills for employability and the wider aspects of learning, including for its own sake and for personal and cultural development."