From education to employment

New Learning Agreement covers 20,000 workers in 36 sites across the UK

A leading UK food producer has entered into a “ground-breaking” multi-union Learning Agreement opening up learning and development opportunities for its employees.

Northern Foods signed the National Learning Agreement earlier this month in association with the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU), the Transport & General Workers Union (T&GWU) and the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (USDAW).

The Agreement, developed by the National Learning Committee, aims to support the development of a learning culture within the workplace. Employees will have access to courses in numeracy, literacy, languages and the European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL).

Jim Mowatt, T&G Director of Education and International Department, said: “This is one of the biggest learning agreements we have ever signed, covering 20,000 workers in 36 sites across the country”.

“It will open up wide ranging opportunities for workers to improve their skills in areas from literacy to languages, and gives members the chance to build their confidence in learning for the needs of the changing workplace,” he added.

Northern Foods will also add three new sites to its five on-site learning centres and promote Government and union learning initiatives such as Skills for Life.

Norman Pickavance, Northern Foods” Corporate Services Director, commented: “Succeeding in this programme forms a vital part of our wider productivity agenda. Providing access to knowledge, learning and development is a key strand of our Corporate Responsibility commitment to build a good place to work.”

Northern Foods will be collaborating with unionlearn, the TUC’s learning and skills project, college providers and Sector Skills Councils, among others.

Liz Smith, Director of unionlearn, said: “This is a wonderful example of a partnership between an employer working with unionlearn and three committed unions to offer the best in learning and skills to its workforce”.

“Northern Foods joins the many employers who have realised that better skilled workers gain confidence in themselves and their work, which ultimately means a better bottom line for business,” she added.

John Hannett, USDAW General Secretary, said: “For our members, getting the chance to keep their skills up to date is not just a “nice to have” but is absolutely vital to their employability.”

Annabel Hardy.

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