UNISON, the Open Unversity and Skillset were amongst the recipients of a unionlearn Quality Award this week. The awards were made at a reception held to celebrate the work of over 18,000 union learning reps throughout the country.

John Denham MP, Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills, who gave out the awards, said: "I would like to pay tribute to the 18,000 people who have helped over 400,000 workers back into learning "“ with over 150,000 last year alone. With their real-life experience and credibility, I see ULRs playing a critical role in inspiring trust and fostering ambition in others, giving them the confidence to demand - and make full use of - opportunities to improve their skills."

"Raising the skill levels of all our people is the key to delivering a successful economy and a fairer society. Union learning representatives are instrumental in boosting employer participation in the Skills Pledge and Train to Gain, ensuring that every business and employee has access to skills training."

He continued: "That is why we will invest an additional £3m per year in union learning, so that by 2010 there will be 22,000 trained ULRs helping over 250,000 workers back into learning each year. But ULRs should have an even wider role and an even greater impact. I urge ULRs to work with their MPs "“ as allies in Parliament "“ advising them on how best to promote skills development in companies, constituencies, regions, and ultimately nationwide."

The unionlearn Quality Award is awarded to providers in the learning world who are committed to working with trade unions. Awards are made to providers who demonstrate that unions and union learners are considered in the design, development and delivery of courses and programmes. Those providers achieving the unionlearn Quality Award will be included on the unionlearn website which receives over one and a half million hits per month.

UNISON won their award for their Learning at Work programme. Pam Johnson, Head of Learning and Organising Services for UNISON, said: "As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of our Return to Learn programme it is good to know that our overall Learning at Work offer, which is targeted at non-traditional learners, is recognised by others for its high quality. We are very proud of it and continue to invest in its development to meet members" needs. Our courses change people's lives, in the places where they work and in the communities where they live."

Liz Smith, unionlearn Director agreed: "I am delighted to see UNISON receive the unionlearn Quality Award for their outstanding work. UNISON is a great example of how trade unions are improving their members" lives on a day-to-day basis and empowering them to make real changes in their lives.""

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