From education to employment

Learning at Work Day Heralded By Unionlearn

“So what are the problems? Many of them are well rehearsed.”

Like Liz Smith, Unionlearn’s Director, those involved within the Further Education sector are becoming increasingly familiar with the incessant duplication of problems afflicting the nation. But just one more time, for posterity, what are they?

“A stubborn productivity gap, not just with the US but in France and Scandinavian countries too,” she dishearteningly points out. “There are too many people whose literacy and numeracy skills hold them back”; “We also don”t have sufficient Level 3 or intermediate skills in the workforce either ““ once again we lag behind France and Germany.”

Learning at Work Day

Never fear, however! The replication of these problems has, for once, a purpose. And that is to highlight the incredible commitment unions have made, and continue to make, towards workplace learning. “The TUC and unions have now set up unionlearn – a new high profile organisation that will provide the framework to support union work on learning and skills, increasing our impact and ability to reach out across the workforce,” she stated in a keynote speech delivered on Thursday 25th May 2006 at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.

Organised to celebrate “learning at work day”, as part of the wider Adult Learners Week, Liz highlighted the government target: “Unions are unique in the contribution they can make to meeting the skills challenge. Whilst government policies aiming to improve the skills of young people in schools are vitally important, 70 % of the 2020 workforce is already in employment. Together, unions and employers can make a real difference to the learning opportunities available.”

Gadget Mad?

The event was part of a large number taking place during Adult Learners Week, including a Gadget Day at Tesco’s on Portobello Road; taster sessions and a photo competition at the Go-East offices in Cambridge; a learning at work day breakfast briefing at the London School of Economics; and taster sessions on skills for life at the First bus garage in Uxbridge.

“Unionlearn is about building on union success in learning and skills,” Liz Smith said. “It will provide a coherent framework for bringing together union rep training and wider learning”. And this framework will benefit from a massive spending budget: “With an annual turnover of £12 million in 2007/2008, the new organisation will be able to give the union movement much more impact over learning and skills.”

Vijay Pattni

From the FE Trenches – right here!

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