From education to employment

Basic Skills to MBA Training

The TUC is outlining ambitious plans for the creation of a union academy, to radically overhaul the training offered to all workers across England. The new academy will build on training at work currently run by unions and offer working people learning when and how they want it.

In a new report launched today at the union academy conference, the TUC sets out the academys prime functions. It will offer guidance on training for employers and employees with courses ranging from basic skills to MBAs at colleges, universities and workplaces to suit the individual. Further help will be available through a new helpline and website and the academy will also serve as a think tank and a skills research centre.

The report, Learning for change, highlights the fact that over 100,000 workers have been helped back into learning since 1998 by 8,000 union learning reps at 400 new learning centres. However it also details the skills gaps that exist throughout all levels in all industries in the UK and how a lack of key skills are stopping people from getting on at work, or even doing their current job properly, costing the British economy millions of pounds each year.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: “Britains skills gap is a key cause of our relatively poor productivity. Unions have a proud track record in helping people at every level from brushing up or improving basic skills to gaining MBAs. The new academy will provide a major boost to the quantity, quality and coherence of the training available to our workforce.

“One of the best parts of being a union leader is the chance to meet people whose lives have been completely transformed after they have learnt the skills they missed at either school or college. The new academy will ensure that no worker misses out on the opportunity to get the skills they need to get on at work and in their personal life.”

The Secretary of State for Education Ruth Kelly MP will tell the union academy conference: “Unions have always recognised the value of education, and the importance of encouraging learning among members dates back to the start of the movement. In recent years unions have helped put learning back at the top of the agenda in many workplaces. I welcome the TUCs ambitious plans to develop an academy to act as a centre of excellence and best practice, as well as a very real catalyst for the learning revolution.”

Chairman of the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) Chris Banks said: “The academy will help to raise the profile of learning within the union movement and allow more individuals to improve their skills and benefit from training. This is a great opportunity to build on the excellent work already being achieved in union learning and we are looking forward to working with the TUC and unions as the academy continues to develop.”

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