I will be retiring from my job as Director of unionlearn later this month. But although sad to be leaving many close colleagues I am glad to be able to report that unionlearn recorded some remarkable achievements at its annual conference in June. We have now trained more than 23,000 union learning reps (ULRs). And they have helped to ensure that over 220,000 people accessed training through the union route last year.

Praise for these great achievements of our trade unions came last week from Peter Mandelson, in his new role as Secretary of State at the new department of Business, Innovation and Skills, he said: "23,000 ULRs helping a quarter of a million workers: that’s a brilliant ratio, and the more experience they get, and the more they build their expertise, the more that ratio of people helped to those serving in that role will increase – and that’s why the government is such a strong backer of ULRs".

For the fifth year running we reported that we had overshot our target of people completing Skills for Life courses. Skills for Life is a top priority for unionlearn. With 70 per cent of people who will be in the 2020 workforce already at work it is clear that unions and employers have an important role in educating tomorrow’s workforce. We are also increasingly seeing unions help people progress to higher skills levels. This year we welcomed David Vincent, a Pro Vice Chancellor from the Open University not only to celebrate the OU’s 40th anniversary, but also celebrate the achievement of the thousands of workers who we have encouraged into higher level learning. We also launched a new initiative with Foundation Degree Forward.

Conference also welcomed the successful Ofsted inspection report on our U-Net learning centres that work with learndirect. The inspectors pointed out the partnership between employers and trade unions has produced "learning highly responsive to employers’ needs, which means learners’ needs as well". There’s much more to be pleased with in that report, which clearly shows that unions are strategic players that can make things happen for the their members as well as the organisations they work for.

Strong and meaningful partnerships between unionlearn and its stakeholders across the learning and skills world provides real hope for the future. And our vital partnerships are, of course, with employers. That’s why at our conference we launched a new publication entitled Leaders in Learning. The publication contains strong support from employers who have successfully worked with unions. "Working with the unions has been fantastic”, said Neil Scales, Chief Executive of Merseytravel. He went on to say: "when we started, I didn’t know I was going to get reduced sickness absences of two days per capita; I didn’t realise I was going to get all this increased motivation; I didn’t realise I was going to unlock the potential of my staff". Neil Scales’ views are echoed by a range of case studies in the public and private sectors and of industries. The theme is perfectly summed up by Graham Bann, Executive Director of Skills and Talent for Business in the Community, who said: "It really pays off when employers, unions and union learning reps get together". The publication can be ordered at www.unionlearn.org.uk/leaders

Much of this valuable work has been kick-started with help from the Union Learning Fund, and many companies have moved on to funding their workplace learning from their own resources. It’s a great tribute to the Government’s foresight that we have the fund, and that it has brought so many benefits to employers and their workers. It’s clear that Britain’s unions can work with many more employers to build the country’s skills base and use them effectively across the economy. Too many employers are missing a trick by not getting closer to their unions on workplace learning. To help this process forward learning and skills must remain a top priority for Government.

The TUC has also now placed its stake in the future by taking on its first apprentice. Zoe Molyneaux has joined two colleagues who are working on a project to build union work on expanding apprenticeships across the country. Therefore in signing off it’s clear to me that the future will be bright for Britain’s workplaces, if we are able to continue to build on the successes already notched up by our unions working closely with our partners, Government and employers.

Liz Smith is the director of unionlearn, which helps unions encourage lifelong learning among members

 

Read other FE News articles by Liz Smith:

unionlearn director says Britain’s Got Talent...

Union learning boosted as training target is surpassed

unionlearn's Liz Smith on Ofsted success

 

You may also be interested in these articles:

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Advertisers

Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.

Podcasts

We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.

Events

FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page