The Skills Network (@SkillsNetworkUK) and Partner Unite, Team Up to Keep UK Learning Following Government Funding Withdrawal

The UK’s largest online learning provider, The Skills Network is supporting one of its longest-standing partners, Unite the Union, to offer its members relevant educational opportunities, despite the withdrawal of government funding for Union Learning earlier this year.

To ensure that thousands of Unite members continue to have access to free online learning, The Skills Network has helped the Union to unlock Adult Education Budget funding, consequently contributing to help Learn with Unite fill many of the skills gaps of its members.

Unite has been partners with the online learning and technology-based education provider for many years and since the government ceased the education funding, many Unions have had to shut down learning departments, making staff either redundant or redeployed.

The Skills Network also supported the issue by funding the cost of Unite members accessing Level 2 courses in devolved areas when funding could not be claimed during the cessation period at the end of the academic year 2020 - 2021.

The partnering companies previously came together recently to provide counselling courses to those helping others who struggle with their mental health.

One Unite member, Paul Ackroyd, was diagnosed with Small Fibre Neuropathy and Restless Limb Syndrome. Having taken courses in counselling, mental health and safeguarding, made available through The Skills Network and Learn with Unite, Paul used his experience not just for his own professional development, but to support those he worked with every day.

Paul Ackroyd, winner of the Learning for Health award, said:

“Learning has made me more confident, made me want to get more involved and has motivated me to further my career within the company. Moving forward I want to be able to help and support my fellow drivers, encourage them to get help if life begins to get too much and signpost them to the right places or just lend an ear.”

Gill Pearson, Regional Learning Manager at Unite the union North East, Yorkshire & Humber, said:

“In 2018 Unite embarked on a Provider agreement with The Skills Network that has given thousands of Unite members fully funded qualifications, helping many in their jobs and career paths as well as supporting them in subjects that are personal to them.

Four years on and this relationship is very much seen as a strategic partner to the Learn with Unite offer to members and has grown exponentially. During the pandemic we offered our members free ‘Continuous Professional Development’ modules through this partnership and had almost 10,000 CPD courses completed by our members.”

Rachel Kay, Partnerships Director at The Skills Network, said:

“Unfortunately, many of the union learning department closures wouldn’t have necessarily had to happen if the correct funding wasn’t withdrawn.

“Learn with Unite is absolutely committed to allowing every member the chance to develop and upskill, but any union, or business has the ability to prioritise its learning department through utilising its AEB fund. At The Skills Network, we ensure all businesses have the correct information and support to do this.”

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