The best and the brightest of people are often the people who self-educate. Self-education is only driven by the individual's desire to learn and never driven by someone else's expectation of what they should know. This is an important distinction in that it produces a desire that aids learning and quickens the process. If the work-environment and management encourages self-education, and is free enough to allow it to happen as part of the workspace (no matter what the topic is) two things will happen: 1) The employee will better his or herself with knowledge that will either apply directly to the business or possibly take the business in new, and better directions 2) the employee will increase their capacity and skill at learning which makes them and the workplace more productive and efficient.
Too often learning in the workplace is couched in formal processes which make the employee feel as though it is a task that must be done. This can lead to disinterest and bad learning. Changing the workplace to allow self-education to happen anytime for any type of subject-matter frees the employee's drive to learn.
Make sure that learning is ingrained in the workplace, don't force it to happen "after hours" - allow it to happen no matter what the subject matter, no matter what the desired outcome is. Furthermore, make sure everyone is comfortable being transparent about their learning.
There is a skill to be gained in self-education that directly relates to business. The better employee knows how to find the answers to their questions, knows how to *learn* from the information-overload world of today, and hones their skills of learning on a daily basis. In addition, gaining knowledge, and knowing that it is encouraged in the workplace helps that person feel more connected to the workplace with a sense of contribution and community.
Communicate a change in philosophy and encourage employees to use their time in pursuit of knowledge even if it doesn't directly conform to their daily tasks. Express the open and free form approach this can take while still offering alternatives. With all things, expect professional approach and trust in what education of any form gains people.