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More Union Education Activity as Unionlearn Goes Regional

The Unionlearn initiative received another major boost yesterday as government ministers, business and trade union representatives convened in Redhill for the inaugural local launch.

Held at the Harlequin theatre yesterday morning in Redhill, guest speakers headlining the event included Unionlearn Director Liz Smith and John Parsonage, Executive Director for Learning and Skills at the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA).

A Local Boost

Liz Smith was effusive about the launch: “This is an exciting new initiative for the local economy. I am really pleased to be launching Unionlearn in the South East region.” Addressing the clear local impetus Unionlearn effects, she continued: “Employers and workers have seen the changes in local employment in recent years; Unionlearn will be there to provide support so that local workers have the skills to match these changes.”

As reported on here at FE News, Unionlearn is the new push from the Trade Union Congress (TUC) incorporating learning at work and trade union education that has already received a huge £4.5 million pledge from government to get it moving. Working with unions and employers to improve basic skills among employees, the programme includes training in basic literacy, numeracy, IT, the all-important language learning and continuing professional development.

As part of Unionlearn, a network of Union Learning Representatives (ULRs) has been established to further spread the ongoing training and development of employees. To date, more than 850 ULR’s have been recruited across the region, each serving a different purpose, be that a simple nod in the direction of training, to actively encouraging and recruiting employees into professional development. The scheme has been a resounding success and one that Unionlearn hopes to build upon.

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Hope’s Hope

Addressing the launch, Skills Minister Phil Hope MP was equally enthusiastic, saying: “The Government is committed to ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to learn and improve their own skills. The hundreds of Union Learning Fund projects we have supported around the country have made a huge difference to countless peoples lives and we now have Union Learning Representatives (ULRs) embedded in thousands of workplaces making learning a reality for all.”

As for the future, the Minister continued: “Unionlearn will help trade unions to build on this success and demonstrate the clear benefits that can be gained when business and unions work together. I pay tribute to all the local ULR’s and partners that have been involved in making this project such a success.”

“Our work is about delivering opportunities for both trade union members and local businesses,” concurred Barry Francis, Southern & Eastern Regional Manager for Unionlearn. “Unionlearn proves beyond doubt that investing in skills benefits everyone.”

Vijay Pattni

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