From education to employment

Unions Take Lead in Work Based Training

The progressive role in employee training taken by trade unions formed a key part of the TUC’s annual Union Learning Fund (ULF) Conference.

The TUC’s statistics show that union supported training at work has increased by nearly ten percent to an impressive 67,000 in the last year. There have also been significant increases in Union Learning Representatives (ULR), training facilitators, of 50 percent to almost 12,000.

The union representative body also revealed that employers have been playing their part with 278 new agreements for the provision of training schemes. The success of the ULRs will be discussed at the conference along with the remit of a new Union Academy to expand and build upon recent achievements.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: “Union learning reps are bringing thousands of people back to learning where other approaches have failed. A recent TUC poll revealed that three in five workers said help and advice from a colleague at work with special knowledge would encourage them to pursue learning opportunities at work – a ringing endorsement for learning reps.”

Mr Barber continued: “We now need to push on to ensure that every worker has the chance to maximise their full potential and access the training they need. A union academy is the next step for the trade union movement to bring together the multitude of training opportunities unions already offer.”

The good work in training being carried out by the unions has been recognized by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) who have identified vocational training as an area that the UK need’s to focus on. LSC research suggests that as a nation we recognise the importance of vocational training and with big challenges, like the London 2012 Olympics, the Thames Gateway project and the competition faced at international level, programmes need to be in place to avoid skills shortages.

Chairman of the Learning and Skills Council, Chris Banks believes:”Winning the 2012 Olympic bid has meant an increased focus on the importance of skilled workers and we are already working with partners to meet this need. Ensuring that the UK workforce has the relevant mix of skills is crucial for the long term success of all businesses across the country and we are leading a campaign to challenge peoples” perceptions of vocational learning.”

The LSC believe that it faces a tough challenge in encouraging younger people to choose vocational training ahead of academic studies, according to recent studies people in the 16-24 age range are not convinced that vocational skills will lead to good careers. The LSC are committed to generating interest in this age group to ensure a multi-skilled workforce in future and are keen to encourage employer participation to this end.

Dan Atkinson

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