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Morrison's Portrack Lane Regional Distribution Centre officially opened the LIFE (Learning Is For Everyone) Learning Centre on Tuesday, September 27.

The Regional Skills Director for the LSC in the North East was delighted to be invited to open the innovative new facility. The Union-led partnership including T&G has seen several organisations (such as Logistic Skills North East Initiative, Usdaw, TUC and Morrisons) working hard for two years to complete and prepare the new learning centre.

The old "smoking room" within the central canteen was transformed into the new learning centre, which is staffed by 850 people. Resources from a regional bid to the Union Learning Fund by the T&G and support from Usdaw have been vital in establishing the centre. The state-of-the-art learning facility has eight workstations, all equipped with new hi-tech PCs courtesy of Durham Logistics College, a partner of Logistics Skills NEI.

Investing in the People

The LIFE project was part of the Union Learning Representatives" desire to promote a learning culture amongst their fellow members and colleagues. Any member of staff who wants to get back into learning can now access online and tutor based courses that are on offer. Acquiring new skills such as Spanish or digital photography, or even brushing up on old ones like maths and English were thought to be important.

A survey of the staff and open days with the BBC Bus and taster courses made it apparent that a learning centre was the best way forward for the area both in training terms and for the benefit of the community. T&G Regional Education and Development Officer, Mick Bond, recognised the importance of the initiative both for the person and the company when he said: "To embrace the learning agenda is not only good for the individual, it also makes good business sense."

Commitment and Partnership

The T&G and Usdaw learning reps onsite work as a team, together with the company's initiative and dedication, has benefited the members of both unions. "It is great to see that commitment finally rewarded," said Martyn Warwick, Usdaw's lifelong learning project worker. Northern TUC Learning Services Co-ordinator, Barney McGill backed this feeling, commenting: "The opening of this fantastic new resource is testimony to what can be achieved when unions and employers work in partnership."

Speaking for the company concerned, HR Controller at Morrisons, Sue Rosborough, added: "The Learning Centre"¦will help us develop and enhance a life long learning culture at Stockton Distribution Centre." The centre will certainly help individuals personally fulfil their own skill requirements as well as make them more employable. The resultant overall increase in the skills of the workforce will enable employers to compete more effectively in the market place both at home and internationally.

Angela Balakrishnan

Learn from what works at work? How's your LIFE going? Tell us in the FE Blog

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