From education to employment

Time to Train – Looking forward to the upcoming TUC Congress

By Liz Smith, Director of unionlearn

Skills take to the fringe – not Edinburgh, but Brighton – as trade unionists gather for the annual TUC Congress next week. As delegates from all over the UK meet debate and discuss issues of social justice and the world of work, skills will be firmly on the agenda.

Top of the list will be the Government’s consultation – Time to Train, which John Denham announced at the unionlearn annual conference in June. The Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills will join TUC Deputy General Secretary Frances O’Grady, and John Cridland, CBI Deputy Director General at a fringe event on the proposed right to request training, chaired by unionlearn Board Chair and CWU General, Secretary Billy Hayes.

Debate is sure to be very informative, energetic and rigorous and I am looking forward to hearing a robust exchange of views. The debate comes in the week when the TUC will be making a submission to the Time to Train consultation, through which the Government is seeking opinions on a proposed new right to request time off for training. We are hoping that this will help those working for the third of bosses who refuse to train their staff.

Congress is always a great time to focus on presenting our message to one of our core audiences – the trade union movement itself and the unionlearn stand at Congress goes from strength to strength. It reminds me, as delegates visit it in ever increasing numbers, just how year on year, unionlearn has gained more recognition in terms of trade unions and the education and skills worlds, and that recognition has come from all areas.

We are proud to say that we are working with Quick Reads to find new authors for a Quick Reads collection of short stories to be published in 2010. We will be launching this competition at Congress and then the search will be on for up to twenty new authors of short stories. Focusing on the theme of work (what else?) we are looking for trade union members to put pen to paper and tell us all about their own personal experiences of the world of work. We already know that people have travelled amazing journeys in their quest for learning, and that learning has changed people’s lives beyond all recognition – so now it’s time for them to tell everyone!

By Liz Smith, director of unionlearn 

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