From education to employment

In a new monthly feature for FE News, Union Learning Reps share with us what their job entails.

ULRs have all chosen to take up a very rewarding challenge within their working lives. One that won”t reward them financially, but will reward them with the pleasure of knowing that theyve helped friends and colleagues in their workplace. They do this by helping them get back into a learning environment and assuring them that its nothing to be afraid of or ashamed of. Some of them may have some learning difficulties, which may even be a form of dyslexia. And by sign posting them into the right area, they can obtain the help that’s readily available to them from local colleges and/or other learning providers.

Whilst youre carrying out your duties as a ULR, youll constantly run into barriers and other problems. But the key is to persevere and not let it get you down, by getting round whatever the barrier is. Also one of the biggest complaints that ULRs have is not about senior managers or directors of the company, but middle managers, who often are reluctant to allow employees time off to attend on-site Learning Centre courses. The thing you need to get over to these people, is the fact that the person they release to attend classes is very likely to be a better person when they return. That’s because theyre going to have received help, guidance and tuition. When they return, theyre going to be more confident about taking on more responsibility, or new working practices and technology as the company plans for the future and moves forward.

The other rewarding thing you get from being a ULR, is when the friends and colleagues you have been assisting start to receive their certificates, maybe at first in Basic Skills, Numeracy, Literacy and ESOL. Then they move on to NVQs or possibly ECDL qualifications further down the road.

Some employees will think that learning isnt for them. You should point out to them some of this countrys masters of industry and self-made millionaires, who have made it right to the very top of their fields, whilst having to overcome some form of learning difficulty or a form of dyslexia. There are far too many of them to name here, but one that always springs to mind is Sir Richard Branson. But they all have a couple of things in common, and that is perseverance and the willpower to succeed.

Stan Sharp

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