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Usdaw Checkout Learning


Usdaw And Argos Widnes

10 Pcs And Office National Statistics 12 Tgwu And Argos Heywood Distribution Centre 14 CWU and The Royal Mail 16 Amicus and Manchester Airport 18 Usdaw and Unichem

Introduction and Background It is widely recognised that the future prosperity of the United Kingdom within the global economy is dependent on increasing the skills of the workforce. In response to this the Labour Government has sought to promote and facilitate Lifelong Learning since coming to power in 1997. Significant progress has already been made. Over 1.7 million adults have gained literacy and numeracy qualifications through the Skills for Life programme and more than a million adults have achieved the platform of employability skills through a level 2 qualification. Yet, the ambitious targets outlined in the Leitch Report ‘Prosperity for All in the Global Economy: World Class Skills’ indicate that these achievements need to be consolidated and extended further if the ambition of joining the worlds ‘premier league’ for skills is to be realised. One way to do this is through negotiated agreements between trade unions and employers to set up collective arrangements to pool resources and increase value for money in support of learning in the workplace. With this in mind, the Department for Innovation and Skills (DIUS), the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and unionlearn are working together on the

North West Collective Learning Fund (CLF) Project to identify, pilot and evaluate a number of different approaches for pooling resources, both cash and inkind, provided by the State, individual employees and employers. The findings will be brought together in a report to provide recommendations to Ministers, that set out some real ways of working in partnership to support the development needs of both individuals and business. I hope you find the case studies below useful in providing an early outline of the partnerships, coinvestment methods and action taken by trade union colleagues, to test innovative ways of resourcing effective learning partnerships in the workplace.

Frank Hegarty Project Co-ordinator



The Partnership Merseytravel is an organisation that has developed a partnership approach to learning and development. It has well established structures on the learning agenda through bodies such as the joint learning forum where management and trade union learning representatives meet on a regular basis to take forward learning within the organisation and oversee the operation of the Learning Centres. As an employer, Merseytravel has supported a wide range of development activities outside of what would normally be provided through standard workforce development. These include: Well-publicised skills for life agenda with full time given/time back in lieu for all Skills for Life learning ICT for staff in Non ICT role ranging from Switch-On to ECDL Language training with open college network courses running of an evening and during lunchtime on Merseytravel premises Taster sessions on alternative therapies Digital photography Through a mixture of employer support and other funding sources it has been possible to provide these programmes free of charge to Merseytravel staff. Due to changing in funding regimes it is proving increasingly difficult for funding to be provided for staff to undertake such courses (with the exclusion of Skills for Life) free of charge. In order to receive employer financial support it has always been necessary to link the programmes to specific business benefits, e.g. upskilling all staff in ICT helps a smother implementation of IT in new areas, provision of language training helps to support Liverpool being European Capital of Culture, provision of aspiring supervisors programme assists with succession planning in the organisation. However this has restricted the range of courses it has been practical to offer


The Union Learning Representative The key functions undertaken by the ULRs to implement the CLF pilot are set out below: work towards building an effective co-investment approach across Merseytravel operations

co-investment action

act as initial point of reference for all CLF enquiries encourage the staff within the Merseytravel to

Employer contributions - courses currently run under the remit of personal development will be identified for budgeting purposes Trade union/individual contribution - how will the trade unions at Merseytravel raise their contribution towards the fund? Including, the feasibility of non-members paying into the fund A CLF Constitution - application/approval process,

for support and programmes that can be funded.

invest in workforce development

Appeals process if application is refused. Financial management of the fund - will

provide access to personal development opportunities

Merseytravel Accounts Department be able to support? Who will operate the fund on a day-to-day basis? What responsibility will the ULRs have? How will the CLF link into other training funding

i.e. what criteria will applications be considered

initiatives, including the services provided

against - rules to be eligible to make an application

through the Government’s Train to Gain?

continue to develop learning resources centre within the workplace assist in implementing the Government’s current learning initiatives work on partnership with other organisations such as the unionlearn and the Learning Skills Council to ensure the partnership is a success and can be sustained

Due to the structures already in place within Merseytravel it was felt that the creation of a Collective Learning Fund (CLF) would be relatively straightforward. A decision was taken to create a sub group of the Joint Learning Forum (JLF), comprising of both Managers and union learning representatives to oversee the creation of a coinvestment pilot


The Partnership Usdaw Checkout Learning

co-investment action The overall aims of the Collective Learning Fund

The pilot will run for 12 months and will be managed by

Pilot will be to raise awareness amongst employers

Usdaw and Union via‘Retail Collective Learning Fund Steering

and employees within the retail sector about the

Group. Membership of the group will comprise of:-

importance of training, development and broader

Usdaw Lifelong Learning Project Worker / co-

Retail has been identified as one of Merseyside’s priority

learning and the impact it has on both business and

sectors, both in terms of recruiting and up-skilling it’s

the individual.

growing workforce Usdaw is the primary retailing union with recognition agreements in four of the ‘big five’ food retailers in the sector, i.e. Tesco, Sainsburys, Morrison’s and Somerfield, as well as number of large non-food retailers.

The key functions undertaken by the ULRs to implement the CLF pilot are set out below:

Mobile Union Learning Representative/s Union Learn Project Worker

Also, the pilot aims make a broad range of vocational

Representatives from each of the partner providers

and personal learning available to those employees


in the sector to ensure they can meet the demands of


the sector and fulfil their own potential.

Next Steps

active participation within a network of other trade union ULRs across Liverpool City Centre and Knowsley to promote and support learning within their store

Employer Representative – where possible It will do this through: Working with a network of providers in Merseyside

The group will meet on a quarterly basis and will be

pilot the notion of a ‘ Mobile’ ULR to promote, co-

The retail sector in general is relatively low paid and

to make available a range of accessible and

responsible for advising and guiding the development

ordinate and organise the learning activity and

low skilled and employees on the whole have few, if

affordable learning beneficial to the individual, the

and delivery of the project.

support and develop the in-store’ ULRs’

any, qualifications.

sector and the local economy. examining the possibilities of a retail learning

Given the priority status of retail and the recognised

Despite Usdaw’s success in developing learning

voucher, or Collective / Individual Learning Account

need to attract and upskill employees in the sector, it is

strategies and recognised learning agreements outside

designed to make learning affordable for retail

proposed that a portfolio of learning and development

employees and redeemable through the network of

is devised and made available to retail workers in the



of retail, which have encouraged over 20,000 members back into learning, it has proven extremely difficult to formally engage retail employers in the agenda, despite the introduction of statutory rights for ULRs.

developing a network of Union Learning Reps learning within their store

at partner colleges in the area will be introduced.

including Train to Gain.

Administration of the voucher will be via the Mobile ULR or ‘in store’ ULR and the learning offer would cover

the retail sector have access to accessible and affordable

activity and support and develop the in-store’ ULRs’

a range of subjects both vocational and personal which

learning to gain and validate the skills that will secure

engaging with local employers to actively support

their employability, aid their progression and improve

the checkout learning project and contribute to

their quality of life.

making learning accessible and affordable for their

Skills for Life (delivered in a variety of contexts)

staff, including Train to Gain.

Introductory ICT

models for retail to enable access and encourage individual and employer ‘buy in ‘has been at the heart of our strategy in devising the ‘Retail Collective Learning Fund Pilot’.

developing new and innovative ways of making learning accessible and affordable for their staff,

to promote, co-ordinate and organise the learning

is now an Usdaw priority and developing sustainable

the checkout learning project CLF pilot

To access the portfolio a ‘Learning Voucher’ redeemable

Usdaw believe they have a duty to ensure members in

Making learning accessible to the retail membership

engaging with local employers to actively support

(ULRs) across the region to promote and support identifying and pilot the notion of a ‘ Mobile’ ULR



The Union Learning Representative

linking with appropriate regional/ national bodies



including Skillsmart, LSC, RDA to identify ways of

Internet & e Mai

funding development within retail

Introductory Language courses

ensuring the promotion of the project is an integral part of Full Time Officer’s work within the region. developing a range of publicity and promotional materials to support the pilot

British Sign Language NVQ in customer care, food hygiene – or other

identifying learning or training needs at the CLF Steering Group

promoting the value of investing in learning and encouraging individual contributions

negotiating with employers to introduce suitable co-investment approaches within the workplace

appropriate vocational qualifications. Usdaw’s accredited ‘return to learn’ course


The Partnership

The Union Learning Representative

Usdaw and Argos Widnes

The key functions undertaken by the ULRs to implement the CLF pilot are set out below:

‘Home Retail Group’ is a call centre site, employing approx 1200 people dealing with the full range of Argos and Homebase calls and administration. Usdaw have approximately 90% membership on site and the learning centre ‘The Learning Curve’, established approximately 5 years ago has helped in this. The site has well established union and learning infrastructure which provides support for the ‘The Learning Curve’. The centre offers a range of courses such as Basic Maths, English, IT, Languages and NVQ s/ Apprenticeship training. It also boasts a joint site level Learning Committee and a recognised Learning Agreement, 9 trained ULRs and 2 ULR Learning Coordinators are funded by the Company. The partnership approach to learning at the site is supported by a robust relationship with Knowsley Community College, providing vital input to the Learning Committee to help make learning accessible and affordable. The NW CLF Project presented the site with the opportunity to look more closely at the effectiveness of the partnership and how it works, particularly in relation to the provision of vocational skills and individuals own learning and development opportunities.It encouraged the site to evaluate the contributions of each of the partners including the Company, Union, College and the individuals and to re-examine the potential of State funded support such as Train to Gain which would otherwise remaining untapped.

engaging with on-site company managers to actively support the implementation of the CLF

co-investment action

pilot at the Widnes site

developing new and innovative ways of making Develop a collective model of good practice with employer, union and providers to deliver a range of accessible and affordable learning which meets the needs of the individual and the organisation

Update existing Learning Agreement

Identify gaps in current model including funding

Establish current learning trends of learning and ways of attracting new / progression learners.

Establish a programme of personal and vocational learning to be delivered through the on-site learning centre including IAG Examine current and future funding model for learning and identify how it can be improved

learning accessible and affordable for staff, including Train to Gain and other Government sponsored

Identify ways of utilising Government initiatives to enhance the learning offer e.g. Train to Gain

Measure impact of learning – Individual & Employer Internal promotions Absenteeism Staff retention Qualifications gained


Identifying learning or training needs and appropriate funding routes

promoting the value of investing in learning and encouraging individual contributions

negotiating with the employer to establish suitable co-investment approaches within the workplace

In summary the overall aim of the CLF initiative at Argos is to maximise the usage of the collective contributions and resources available within the partnership to ensure the skill and learning needs of the company and the individual were being met in the most effective way. And subsequently to improve the learning agreement, infrastructure, resources and provide a more cohesive framework of opportunities to meet those needs.



The Partnership Over 900 people work at ONS Southport, most of them in the General Register Office (GRO). GRO administers

The Union Learning Representative

PCS and Office National Statistics

The key functions undertaken by the ULRs to implement the CLF pilot are set out below:

the registration of births, deaths and marriages in England & Wales and maintains the National Health

meeting with ULRs from other Government

Service Central Register (NHSCR), an administrative

Departments to explore joint collective approaches

service provided to the Department of Health and the National Health Service.The Department also has a small number of people working in Information Management and Human Resource functions, providing support to GRO. Although part of ONS, the work of GRO is distinctly non-statistical in nature, with most jobs having an

co-investment action Through the CLF pilot work is in place to build on and develop the early successes by exploring new ways to:

the Regional Learning Services Officer first visited the site to address the Branch Executive Committee (BEC). Since then five Union Learning Reps (ULRs) have undertaken training and have conducted a Staff

learning at the Birkdale site including funding establishing a programme of personal and

explore setting up video conference learning events with local FE colleges build concrete CLF arrangements into learning agreement with management

set up joint ventures/on-site learning centre with

partnerships with ONS at the site since July 2005 when

identifying gaps in current approach to resourcing issues

administrative, customer services or legal feel to them. PCS has been working to establish effective learning

within the local area

other Government Departments in Southport support other fundraising events for ‘learning at work’ day explore feasibility of ‘video conference courses’ with other union branches/ONS sites

develop effective evaluation/review mechanisms to inform next steps; and set up a ‘learning account’ for use by all sites and learning partners develop a collective model of good practice with employer, union and providers to deliver a range of accessible and affordable learning which meets the needs of the individual and the organisation

vocational learning to be delivered through a new on-site learning centre implementing effective information and guidance processes examining present and future plans for funding learning at Birkdale to consider how better collaboration between ULRs and the employer can support on-site learning and development drawing up a business case to management for the Learning Centre encouraging and supporting a learning culture that

Learning Survey, coordinated reading groups, organised

establishes individual and employer investment

two Learning at Work days and arranged on-site classes

within ONS.

in Spanish and British Sign Language. A Departmental

analysing learning or training needs

Learning Agreement has been negotiated and work is

providing information or advice about learning or

underway on local level agreements. ULRs sit on the BEC

training matters

and attend Training Liaison Officer Network meetings

arranging learning or training

so are thoroughly involved in the branch. In April this

promoting the value of learning or training and

year the employer demonstrated its commitment to

encouraging individual investment

learning in the workplace by signing the Government’s

consulting the employer about carrying out new

Skills Pledge to help all eligible employees benefit form

and innovative approaches to resourcing learning

support aimed at addressing Skills for Life needs and a

through effective collaboration

first full NVQ Level 2.



The Partnership Argos distribution in Heywood is committed to working alongside TGWU to make an effective commitment to Lifelong Learning for all employees at the Heywood site and to the agreed policy set out in the National Learning Agreement. This was highlighted when the senior ULRs and management team gave their full agreement and commitment for a CLF pilot to take place. A sub group of the Learning Steering Committee was formed to agree a development plan and agreement was gained for the CLF account to be managed by the company in line with its existing accounting standards. This allows the company to collect individual contributions to learning through the staff payroll systems and reimburse local providers through the same systems. A spreadsheet has been set up to monitor course attendance and the information is used to highlight learning trends for discussion at CLF meetings. Through the pilot the partnership carried out a review of existing funding arrangements and has already carried out some changes at the local level. One example of this is where under an existing arrangement the Company had originally agreed to pay course fees, approved by the learning partnership, on successful completion of the course i.e. certification awarded. Following discussion at the CLF sub group ‘success’ has now been redefined as not having to pass and receive a certificate but instead as demonstrating ‘willingness to learn’ which can be evidenced as attendance at the full course and commitment to learning while there.

The Union Learning Representative

TGWU and Argos Heywood Distribution Centre

The key functions undertaken by the ULRs to implement the CLF pilot are set out below: representing the views of employees at the CLF steering group

co-investment action build on and develop earlier success with recent onsite learning activity

highlight the advantages in approach used through national learning agreement between company and unions and local collaborations at site level

review existing funding arrangements provided by the company to support lifelong learning courses explore innovative ways to encourage wider individual

promoting the value of learning including the benefits and encouraging individual contribution supporting





undertake Lifelong Learning keeping up-to-date on Lifelong Learning initiatives to advise members

explore the issues raising barriers to involvement in the Government’s Train to Gain programme

assisting with employer request to promote agreed skills development activity

contributions explore links/possible support by the sector lead consider how a collective fund might enhance existing union/employer support for ULR development

(Skills for Logistics)

receiving and communicating information about Lifelong Learning activity and initiatives to all employees on site on a regular basis acting as expert point of reference for all enquires on the CLF pilot and its constitution

Both the T&G and the Company believe that Personal and Career Development complement Job-specific Training and Development. Through better collaboration and collective working both are committed to making learning as accessible as possible for all employees regardless of their age, sex, race, and disability or employee status. The Heywood on-site learning facility is one example of this. The CLF pilot aims to harness and maximise opportunities available through external local and national initiatives, such as accredited learning and trade union education and the University for Industry, as well as opportunities available through internal Company training programmes.



The Partnership The Communication Workers Union (CWU) has 7 learning centres and over 100 Union Learning

The Union Learning Representative

CWU and The Royal Mail

The key functions undertaken by the ULRs to implement the CLF pilot are set out below:

Representatives in the North West. The Crewe CLF pilot is a partnership between the CWU, and Royal

analysing individual learning or training needs

Mail and is centred in the Learning Centre at the Royal Mail Automated Processing Centre in Crewe and in the satellite offices in the surrounding area. Ray Atkinson, Regional Learning Project Worker recognised that although development of the centre was still at a very

co-investment action

managing CLF funds providing information or advice about the CLF pilot constitution

early stage, improved partnership working through a CLF pilot would add real value and could expand on the range of opportunities available at the site and surrounding area. The partnership has already had early some success with learning focussed around ESOL, Spanish and Basic Computing. Some of these courses have been run in partnership with other trade unions including TGWU

encouraging innovative approaches to support The Crewe CLF pilot aims to build on the initial success

involving the use of laptops for distance learning.

of the learning centre by developing further learning

Approaches have been made to Royal Mail to enter in to

opportunities for the 500 members on site and around

discussions about a formal Learning Agreement at the

150 members in the satellite units within the surrounding

site to underpin the co-investment partnership.

area. The action plan includes expanding the range of learning opportunities available to staff through plans

sustainability of learning arranging learning or training and providing followup support promoting the value of learning and encouraging individual contributions

Unite and the Fire Brigades Union and others with large local employers like Crewe & Nantwich Borough Council.


consulting the employer about increased partnership working and shared planning for learning activity


The Partnership A Union Learning Fund Project has supported the development of the learning agenda at Manchester

The Union Learning Representative

Amicus and Manchester Airport

The key functions undertaken by the ULRs to implement the CLF pilot are set out below:

Airport for several years and through it a number of ULRs have been recruited and trained. The employer

engaging with MAA HR team to actively support

operates a company Personal and Self Development Scheme (PASS) designed to provide grants of ÂŁ150 for any employee wishing to undertake learning that can be linked to activity at the Airport. Importantly,

the implementation of the CLF pilot at the Airport

co-investment action

the learning does not have to be linked directly to the

application needs to demonstrate how the learning

Focus on Manchester Airport Group (MAG) Personal

might benefit the airport on a wider and more general

and Self-development Scheme (PASS) and in particular

basis. However, the scheme was not widely promoted

explore issues relating to:

individual contributions from members setup of CLF management processes

the CLF pilot it was decided to address this issue by

improved links with other unions operating at the Airport

promoting the existing scheme more widely with

improved links with MAG management

union members and also develop a parallel unionled PASS would focus it’s funding on non-vocational

learning accessible and affordable for staff, including Train to Gain and other Government sponsored

day-to-day job role of the applicant but instead the

and historically uptake was extremely low. Through

developing new and innovative ways of making

improved sharing of resources at the site


identifying learning or training needs and appropriate funding routes

promoting the value of investing in learning and encouraging individual contributions by promoting the benefits

learning and personal development activity that might be ineligible through the company scheme, but could be seen to meet the requests for learning

negotiating with the employer to establish suitable co-investment approaches within the workplace

by members. A CLF Steering Group was formed and it was agreed at the first meeting to focus the initial activity on the Airport’s Engineering Division, where

increase the number of ULRs on site through informed dialogue with other trade unions

employees had traditionally had little opportunity for personal development activity and, in some cases, limited scope for job related training, By doing this it is intended to better utilize the employer contribution and lever additional funding from other trade unions and individuals to widen participation in learning and engage hard to reach learners across the site.



The Partnership UniChem Preston is a Regional Distribution Centre for Pharmaceutical products. It delivers to Chemists,Hospitals and Dispensing Doctors on a twice daily basis. It currently employs over 250 staff within a wide variety of roles and shift patterns. The roles include drivers, warehouse operatives, administration staff, and management. The company in recent years has expanded and adapted to the Pharmaceutical market and continues to be a leader in this field. In 2006 the company merged with Boots the Chemist to become Alliance Boots. The company holds corporate IIP status and is committed to the development of its employees. As part of this, regular one to ones are carried out with all staff, internal promotion is encouraged and succession planning has been adopted in order to ensure that our people have as many opportunities to progress as possible. In 2007 USDAW shop steward and UniChem driver, Shaun Griffith, had the idea of opening a learning centre which would be a joint project between USDAW and UniChem and would be available to all employees. He approached the General Manager, Alan Danson, with the idea. Alan embraced the concept and took it to the Board. Seeing the benefits to both the company and its individuals the Board signed off the money needed to set up the state of the art learning centre. USDAW matched the funding. UniChem Learning Zone is a perfect example of Trade Unions and Employers working closely together to achieve a shared goal. Since the launch of the Learning Zone the support of other partners has also been enlisted. Lancashire College and Carter and Carter are now an integral part of the Steering Committee and they perform the vital roles of learning providers and specialists in their own fields. All parties have learnt from each other and work together harmoniously. We are currently offering both vocational and nonvocational courses as we believe that personal development reaches further than just vocational qualifications and we recognise the return on investment from allowing employees to take up courses that they will enjoy. Both the employer and employees are contributing towards this learning as


The Union Learning Representative


Ayub says,” We have two ULRs at UniChem, Bharat Vaja, who is a driver and me, Ayub Patel, the Putaway Supervisor. Our ULR role is shared with our day jobs. We were approached by our union shop steward, Shaun Griffith. He approached management with the idea to

co-investment action

open a learning centre in our workplace with the help of the trade union which is USDAW. I wanted to be a ULR because I have knowledge of many different languages. We have a large percentage of people with ethnic backgrounds who may struggle

Pilot will:

with English, so this my way of helping them and getting

c onsider how a CLF can complement the existing plans for newly opened site learning centre

w  ork with providers to encourage on-site learning delivery

set-up specific account to support the pilot

e xplore collective implications for company national learning agreement/arrangements

identify joint funding resource across employer, TU members and the State

e stablish learning partnerships with other businesses on the industrial park

them into education to improve their prospects. As ULRs we were told by Shaun that we would be given full training to do our duties, which I am happy to say that we have been given. We went on a 5 day course on the role of ULRs at the USDAW offices in Warrington. UniChem gave us time off and support to do this and also any time we need to do our duties as required. We have a steering group which we are part of and we have regular meetings to discuss our plans for the Learning Zone. Our roles as ULRs is to provide information and guidance to our employees which is done by group briefing, one to ones and displaying posters with the help of

we believe that more commitment from learners is gained this way. The NW CLF Project has provided the Unichem and Usdaw collaboration with the opportunity to examine how the balance of funding and other contributions including a variety of in-kind contributions to the Learning Zone can be brought together to ensure best value in meeting the needs of both individuals and the company. The pilot will also explore arrangements for allowing wider access to the Learning Zone by other companies and their staff represented on the industrial park.

union project workers, management and our learning providers. We believe that working in partnership with UniChem has been the key to our success so far. We now want to build on this and through the CLF pilot put the skills we have acquired to good use. We will have a leading role, working alongside the company’s HR staff, in looking at different ways to bring in the resources needed to support the learning carried at the Learning Zone, including some new ideas on how we might involve workers at neighbouring companies.”


North West Collective Learning Fund  
North West Collective Learning Fund  

Through negotiated agreements between trade unions and employers we want to set up collective arrangements to pool resources and increase v...