SPECIAL AWARDS ISSUE
ISSUE 2: SUMMER 2010
We’ve changed the face of workplace learning embed the learning agenda into their core functions and activities and build vital partnerships with employers and other learning providers. As Britain strives to emerge from recession, the experience of the Union Learning Fund shows that continued JESS HURD/REPORTDIGITAL.CO.UK
The pioneering work carried out through the Union Learning Fund over the past 12 years has changed the face of workplace learning. By making learning both more flexible and accessible, the Union Learning Fund has reached out to new layers of workers in different sectors of the economy. The Skills for Life initiative has been a significant achievement, providing the most vulnerable and neglected sections of society with the chance to improve their basic literacy, numeracy and computing skills. ULF projects have trained a whole new layer of dedicated union learning representatives, who have enabled thousands of members to access a range of new learning opportunities and delivered real improvements to business performance. For employers, ULF projects have delivered real improvements to the “bottom line” – helping to improve staff morale, reduce rates of absence and turnover and provide a better educated, more motivated and productive workforce. Indeed, growing numbers of employers have seen ULF projects as instrumental in developing their own workforce development strategies and upskilling their employees. The ULF has also helped unions to sustain their work on learning and skills,
investment in learning and skills will be absolutely vital to help businesses respond to recession, increase productivity and boost UK competitiveness. This second special edition of Link-Up, the quarterly ULF Newsletter, focuses on the very first Union Learning Fund Awards, which celebrated the tremendous successes of the ULF since its inception in 1998. It showcases just a small proportion of the excellent work trade unions are undertaking in successful partnerships with employers and learning providers to improve the skills and life chances of the UK workforce. Catherine McClennan, Manager for ULF
COMEDIAN LENNY HENRY PRESENTED OUR FIRST AWARDS EVENT
Visit us online: www.unionlearn.org.uk
Learning for Change Employer engagement and Commitment Learning Centres Skills for Life Working with Sector Skills Councils Apprenticeships & Young People Progression & Professional Development Informal Adult Learning Union Learning Representatives Equality & Diversity Supporting Learners Contacts
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‘Learning helped manage change and improve business performance at a time of significant upheaval’
USDAW PRESIDENT JEFF BROOM AND BOOTS UK HEAD OF OPERATIONS JUDITH LYONS COLLECT THEIR CHANGE AWARD FROM LENNY HENRY
Learning for Change
Boots UK/USDAW When Boots UK completely overhauled its national network of distribution centres, the company worked in partnership with retail union USDAW to help staff prepare for the large-scale change involved. Recognising the need to work together to secure the best future for the workforce at a time of restructuring and job loss, the two sides drew up an agreement which: • established union learning representatives (ULRs) in each Distribution Centre (DC); • offered staff up to £300 to spend on vocational learning; • matched time staff spent improving their English and maths; • set up Learning Committees in each DC to work with local experts to set up learning and job search initiatives; • established learning centres and
appointed a full-time implementation co-ordinator in each DC; and • set up a process to help staff redeployment. For the company, learning helped manage change and improve business performance at a time of significant upheaval. It maintained staff morale, reduced absenteeism, and increased staff flexibility, while staff retention helped reduce the cost of employing agency workers.
Learning also paid off for the workers themselves. Almost two-thirds (63 per cent) of all staff across the country were involved in some form of learning, with as many as 90 per cent of staff taking part in several DCs. Over half of staff took vocational and/or English and maths courses, while widespread training in job search, job application and interview skills gave everyone involved a better chance of finding alternative employment. And USDAW benefited as well: the learning agreement raised the union’s profile and boosted recruitment, strengthened its workplace organisation (nearly 40 ULRs became active), and increased membership awareness of, involvement in and satisfaction with USDAW. “The passion and positivity around learning has been astonishing and a pleasure to see. Working together with USDAW on this project has been very important to its success. ULRs have often made a real difference around encouraging reluctant learners to participate and have provided an exceptional level of support to our people as they gain new skills.” Matt Burton, Boots UK Learning and Development Manager
ULF projects have helped around 750,000 union members to access a wide range of learning opportunities.
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Employer Engagement and Commitment
The dynamic new learning culture has had many measurable business benefits: sick leave has been reduced by an average of two days per employee per year, staff performance has improved and customer complaints reduced. Vocational learning at Merseytravel is coordinated through an annual review for all staff, when training and development requirements are prioritised and matched to resources and learning providers, so that corporate and individual needs are met in the most
“What is the greater risk: to develop your staff, with the risk that they leave, or not to develop your staff, with the risk that they’ll stay?” Neil Scales, Merseytravel Chief Executive Officer
HIGHLY COMMENDED: UCATT
UCATT PROJECT CO-ORDINATOR STEVE CRAIG JESS HURD/REPORTDIGITAL.CO.UK
‘Sick leave has been reduced by an average of two days per employee per year, staff performance has improved and customer complaints reduced’
appropriate and cost-effective way. Complementing this vocational training there is also a robust Skills for Life and ICT learning provision, opening up opportunities for people to brush up their literacy, language and numeracy skills, or complete relevant ICT training and qualifications. To deliver this, Merseylearn has two dedicated ICT and Skills for Life tutors who work flexibly to meet learner needs across the different parts of the business through Learndirect provision, and have now also engaged with partner organisations to support their learning.
Merseytravel, which coordinates regional public transport provision and operates the Mersey Tunnels and Mersey Ferries, has become a byword for successful workplace learning in recent years. It wasn’t always so. When the workplace learning programme Merseylearn was launched in 2002 (with the help of the Union Learning Fund), one in four of the nearly 1,000 staff had poor literacy and numeracy skills, and many didn’t have a Level 2 qualification (equivalent to a good GCSE pass). The success story since then has been striking, transforming the organisation and its workforce, with over 90 per cent of staff qualified to Level 2 at least, and over 50 per cent to Level 3.
MERSEYTRAVEL UNISON BRANCH SECRETARY ROGER IRVINE AND DIRECTOR OF CORPORATE DEVELOPMENT LIZ CHANDLER PICK UP THE AWARD FOR EMPLOYER ENGAGEMENT
SPECIAL AWARDS ISSUE ISSUE 2: SUMMER 2010
Prison Officers’ Association
working in this area of the NHS and Prison Service, the learning centre has developed a strong supporting role for learners, in particular playing a leading role in the phased return to work of staff who have been on longterm sick leave. The learning centre also: • helps learners keep their skills up-to-date; • facilitates re-training for members of staff who may be redeployed on return from sick leave; • delivers a range of NVQs linked to roles in the trust and the prison service; • delivers a range of support services for staff; and • runs courses to help staff make the most of their Personal Development Plans.
POA DEPUTY GENERAL SECRETARY MARK FREEMAN AND LEARNING CENTRE CO-ORDINATOR ALISON MANION PICK UP THEIR AWARD
and courses are run at various times including evenings, weekends (depending on demand) with dropin sessions during luncthtime. To tackle challenges faced by staff
HIGHLY COMMENDED: COMMUNICATION WORKERS’ UNION
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CWU’S TRISH LAVELLE PLUS ULRS JACKY MORREY AND SEAN McGEOUGH
With the backing of the union Learning Fund, the Prison Officers’ Association UK (POA) has been able to give prison staff and their families access to accredited learning at workplaces up and down the country. The Union Learning Zone at the e-Cafe, Parkbourn, Maghull, opened in partnership with Merseycare NHS Trust (which provides specialist mental health and learning disability services for Liverpool, Sefton and Kirby), is a shining example of what ULF support can help unions and employers deliver. The Union Learning Zone provides a wide range of accredited and nonaccredited learning, from Skills for Life and the European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL) to professional qualifications. It’s open to all full-time and part-time staff, who don’t have to be members of the POA to access any of the courses,
“The benefits to the organisation are equality of access to training; a more skilled workforce; recruitment and retention of staff; personal development and career progression for all staff; new training opportunities and improving the working and personal lives of staff.” Lorraine Lewis, Centre Manager
Skills for Life
Fire Brigades Union
ULF-backed projects have set up a national network of over 400 learning centres which offer a growing range of learning opportunities.
FBU REGIONAL ULF COORDINATOR BOB FITZGERALD AND PROJECT WORKER LORNA TAYLOR CELEBRATE THEIR SKILLS FOR LIFE AWARD
‘The centre received the prestigious unionlearn Quality Award in 2007’
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has consistently promoted lifelong learning projects to encourage members to brush up their Skills for Life – numeracy, literacy and information communication technology (ICT). The union’s achievements in this area are nowhere more apparent than in its learning centre in Morpeth, Northumberland, where Union Learning Fund support over the years has funded a project manager, project worker and learning support worker and partfunded an ICT tutor (it also covered the cost of half a dozen computers). With management supplying the premises, connectivity and computer maintenance and replacement, the centre has been able to support employees from every part of the Fire & Rescue Service, as well as their families and friends. It offers a range of learning, including numeracy and literacy assessments and qualifications, computer and other IT training and even Business Management courses. The centre received the prestigious unionlearn Quality Award in 2007 and is also Matrix accredited in recognition of the high-quality information, advice and guidance on learning and skills
HIGHLY COMMENDED: GMB SOUTHERN REGION
opportunities it offers. It’s also an accredited European Computer Driving Licence testing centre. “This project has provided the East Midlands with a sound structure at regional, brigade and branch level and is helping to mainstream all the components needed for the FBU to continue offering lifelong learning opportunities to their members for the long term. Further, it is helping to develop a better understanding of the issues surrounding workforce development and qualifications in the Fire & Rescue Service.” Trevor Shanahan, FBU ULF Project Manager
GMB SOUTHERN REGION PROJECT WORKER ANIA KONDERA (LEFT) AND LYNN FERGUSON
SPECIAL AWARDS ISSUE ISSUE 2: SUMMER 2010
Working with Sector Skills Councils
PCS NATIONAL LEARNING OFFICER DAVID MCEVOY AND BARGAINING UNIT LEARNING OFFICER LAURA LLOYD RECEIVE THEIR WORKING WITH SECTORS AWARD
HIGHLY COMMENDED: BECTU
BECTU'S SEBASTIAN BARNES, YVONNE SMITH AND JOHN CRUMPTON
development and delivery of Sector Skills Agreements. The union has worked closely with Government Skills on its Skills for Life Strategy, which aims to encourage employers to offer literacy and numeracy screenings and courses to their staff. The union has also campaigned to push Civil Service departments and agencies to implement the Leitch employer skills pledge and every department has now produced a Leitch Action Plan. In addition, PCS has been pressing for a greater emphasis on increasing the wider lifelong learning opportunities of the workforce and begun addressing issues about which qualifications are funded and the low targets set for raising Skills for Life levels in the workforce. “We are very happy to receive this award, which recognises the hard work the project team, the reps on skills council boards and our learning reps have put in.” David McEvoy, PCS National Training Officer
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More and more employers are getting the message that apprentices are good for business. Building union UCATT’s project has secured employer commitment to apprenticeships, developed the role of ULRs and the wider union to support apprenticeships while ensuring workers access relevant, high-quality training through effective partnerships with learning providers. The Sector Skills Agreement for Construction between ConstructionSkills and UCATT commits both parties to increasing the number of apprenticeships to provide an effective entry route for new entrants at craft level. UCATT provides a great deal of support to construction apprentices throughout Britain, giving them guidance and advice in order to ensure that they are able to complete their apprenticeships and then secure
HIGHLY COMMENDED: PFA
The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) has been building better relationships with Sector Skills Councils as part of its wider learning activities. The union now has increasing influence in the two Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) which cover the majority of its members – Government Skills (the SSC for central government) and Skills for Justice (which covers everyone working in justice and community safety). PCS has a seat on the board of each SSC, provides information and support for its board representatives and has had a significant input into the
Apprenticeships & WIN
PFA EDUCATION REGIONAL OFFICER MICHAEL BENNETT AND KRIS IRWIN
Young People NNERS
Progression & Professional HIGHLY COMMENDED: FDA Development
ATL ATL’s education and training programme has a wide range of courses to support professional and personal development, with training available for every role and sector from support staff to teacher, lecturer or leader working in schools and colleges. As an education union, ATL is committed to developing skills in areas such as behaviour management, assertiveness, how to work in teams and using your voice. Many courses are free for ATL members, all courses are free for active ATL reps, while others have a nominal charge which can be paid in full by schools or colleges as part of staff CPD entitlements. ATL members were quick to snap up places on the various Managing Challenging Behaviour courses during the autumn term with over 150 members packing into venues in Newcastle, Cumbria, Calderdale and Wigan.
UCATT NATIONAL PROJECT CO-ORDINATOR STEVE CRAIG COLLECTS THE UNION'S APPRENTICESHIPS AWARD FROM LENNY HENRY
FDA ULR KIMBERLEY BINGHAM AND PROJECT MANAGER NEIL RIDER
Problems arising from poor behaviour in classroom are a major source of stress for ATL members and ULRs have responded positively to offer a series of very successful workshops to enable members to better tackle the problem. “I thought it would be difficult to run a course on a Saturday morning but I was blown away by the response. It was well worth the effort as those who attended were treated to an absolutely brilliant course.” Debbie Polwarth, ATL ULR
The ULF has ensured union-led learning links in with broader government learning initiatives.
“UCATT is delighted to win this award for our work with apprentices and to be commended for our projects which develop and enhance the skills of adult construction workers. UCATT is increasingly playing a key role in promoting and expanding training and skills in the workplace.” Alan Ritchie, UCATT General Secretary
permanent roles within the industry. Full-time UCATT officials attend construction colleges to give apprentices both individual and group support and also assist with personal vocational development.
ATL LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT MANAGER KATE QUIGLEY (RIGHT) AND ULR DIANA MANVILLE CELEBRATE THEIR CPD AWARD
SPECIAL AWARDS ISSUE ISSUE 2: SUMMER 2010
ULF support has helped train over 25,000 union learning representatives to raise demand for union learning and provide high-quality information and advice.
UNISON'S NATIONAL ULF PROJECT MANAGER JO CAIN PICKS UP THE INFORMAL LEARNING AWARD FROM LENNY HENRY
Informal Adult Learning
UNISON ‘In the South-East, the union has piloted its Credit Crunch Cookery course’
“Bridges to Learning recognises the profound importance of informal adult learning to people’s lives and wellbeing: informal learning can be an important stepping stone to further learning, qualifications and more rewarding work.” Project Director Anne Hansen ROD LEON
UNISON’s informal adult learning programme aims to broaden membership participation in lifelong learning, increase engagement in workplace training, public policy and citizenship and help facilitate routes into the union’s own structures. Informal learning activity has targeted lower-paid members, those in lowskilled jobs and without qualifications, and the union has ensured that they then have the opportunity to rapidly progress to formal learning. In the North-West, the Living Books project has trained UNISON members to share their experiences of disadvantage with members of their local communities through events in libraries, museums and conferences. In the South-West, the union has run financial literacy and debt awareness courses for members in partnership with local not-for-profit company Devon Pound.
In the South-East, the union has piloted its Credit Crunch Cookery course, which embeds numeracy issues (eg, converting between imperial and metric measurements, calculating cost per head and managing portion control) while teaching members how to cook healthy meals on a budget. And in the North-East, the Bridges to Learning project uses informal adult learning to engage hard-to-reach learners in local government and health, delivering taster sessions in each of the Bridges to Learning workplaces six times per year to generate interest in progression routes through to higher level skills.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: PROSPECT
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PROSPECT’S KATE ANTONIOU, STEPH LAMBERT, ROB FOOT AND RACHEL BENNETT
Union Learning Representatives
Communication Workers’ Union
CWU HEAD OF EDUCATION AND TRAINING TRISH LAVELLE RECEIVES THE ULR AWARD
The Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) has recruited, trained, supported and developed a national network of union learning representatives to promote improved skills in the workplace, with the help of the Union Learning Fund. The union has worked hard to ensure its learning reps are part of its mainstream structures, so that ULRs, many of whom are new to union work, are supported and encouraged by more experienced workplace reps. The union has also used its learning work to open a dialogue with new employers (for example in call centres where there’s previously been no history of formal relationships between management and staff representatives). The value of the CWU approach can be seen clearly in the union’s Midlands
HIGHLY COMMENDED: SOCIETY OF CHIROPODISTS AND PODIATRISTS
SCP EMPLOYMENT RELATIONS DEPARTMENT DIRECTOR EDDIE SAVILLE AND ULR PROJECT MANAGER LIZ SALEM
‘The union has worked hard to ensure its learning reps are part of its mainstream structures’ region, where workplace learning projects continue to grow at a rapid rate, including a learning centre and learning agreement at Port Vale FC, a range of courses at a sports and education centre in Stoke and continued work with the Sikh temple learning centre in Wolverhampton. CWU Midlands achieved the Matrix Standard for the high-quality Information, Advice and Guidance its ULRs provide to members in July 2009.
It was an intensive process: the assessment was Midlands-wide, with the Matrix Assessor visiting 11 learning centres and conducting over 40 interviews with ULRs, learners and various partners. “Achieving the Matrix Standard in the Midlands was a real rollercoaster ride, but it clearly demonstrated that we have strong, capable ULRs in the region who supported each other every step of the way in order to achieve a common goal. Members of the union’s Regional Learning Committee put an enormous amount of hard work into this project to ensure that it was a complete success, and I am proud to have taken this journey with them.” Jacky Morrey, CWU Regional Learning Committee Secretary
SPECIAL AWARDS ISSUE ISSUE 2: SUMMER 2010
Equality & Diversity
The ULF has promoted equality and diversity by creating a whole new generation of activists and learners and ensuring that learning is accessible and open to all.
UNITE’S NATIONAL UNION LEARNING ORGANISER STEVE ROWLATT (LEFT) AND ULR KWASI AGYEMPRE COLLECT THE EQUALITY AND DIVERSITY AWARD FROM LENNY HENRY
With the help of the Union Learning Fund, Unite continues to show its dedication to London’s migrant workers and domestic workers by helping them overcome barriers to learning and play a bigger role in their communities and workplaces. Every weekend, 150 workers gather to study IT and take literacy courses with English for Speakers of Other Languages embedded (numeracy courses are also underway). So successful has the project been, and so positive the word-of-mouth, that Unite has had to move the courses out of its Transport House building into the more spacious surroundings of nearby Faraday House where the learners can spread out over six classrooms, a 30-
‘Unite continues to show its dedication to London’s migrant workers by helping them overcome barriers’
Without the backing of the Union Learning Fund and the commitment of Unite, the migrants would have to fall back on the courses run by their employers, where take-up has always been low, or somehow find the money from their minimum wage pay packets to sign up with a local college.
piece IT suite, and the student lounge. In addition, the young members section of the Justice for Cleaners campaign, where many of the migrant workers first made contact with the union, runs workshops for up to 40 young people, who are mostly children the learners bring with them, on photography, video, art, drama, music, dance, food and Spanish.
“The workers themselves couldn’t communicate with their employers or the union around industrial issues, but now they’ve taken the courses, they’ve got a bit more confidence, and they’re taking the agenda forward now: we couldn’t have achieved any of this without the backing of the Union Learning Fund.” Steve Rowlatt, Unite National Union Learning Organiser
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Federation of Entertainment Unions WINNERS
FEU MEMBERS CELEBRATE THEIR AWARD (FROM LEFT): LOUISE GRAINGER, DIERDRE HEINRICH, LINDA KING, MIRANDA GAVIN AND FRANCES DREDGE
work together to provide the training most freelancers need. It launched the FEU training hub in June 2008 to provide a communication and IAG forum for multi-union freelance reps/advisers and members.
HIGHLY COMMENDED: RAIL UNIONS ASLEF, RMT, TSSA
Freelancers, casuals and contractors employed in the media and entertainment sectors are exactly the sort of atypical workers who are often forgotten or passed over when it comes to workplace training. Not any more – thanks to the Federation of Entertainment Unions (FEU) project backed by the Union Learning Fund, which has helped build a network of union learning reps (trained to facilitate the development of new skills) and provided a comprehensive Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG) service to ULRs and freelancers on learning and skills development. The project has raised awareness of the need for skills development and improved communication between freelance staff to overcome identified challenges such as lack of information, awareness and isolation – swapping best practice and maximising resources to meet multi-union freelance needs. The FEU project has allowed the unions to pinpoint and prioritise members’ skills development areas and
(FROM LEFT) TRACEY FIGG, JULIE FREESTON, MANUEL CORTES, SAL MORAWETZ, ANDREW BRATTLE AND MICK O’SHEA
In addition, the FEU has produced a handbook for freelance staff, launched multi-union courses, run a number of workshops for ULRs and freelancers and sought to embed learning and skills development within its constituent unions at national and local level. “The NUJ has been running professional training courses for freelancers and others for nearly 12 years, thanks to an initial grant from the Union Learning Fund. The good that we have been able to achieve both for those taking their first steps towards careers in the media and for people who needed to adapt their professional skills to keep up with technological and other developments has been thanks to the existence of the Union Learning Fund.” Linda King, NUJ Education and Training Officer
SPECIAL AWARDS ISSUE ISSUE 2: SUMMER 2010
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National Union Development Administrator