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SUPPORTING LEARNERS NEWS Introduction This is the second in a series of newsletters that has been produced to keep unionlearn staff, unions, project workers, union learning reps (ULRs) and other reps up to speed about:

responding to the changes to ensure that union learners at all levels receive the best possible information and advice to help them progress in learning and work

developments in the area of a publicly funded careers service that will affect existing structures and networks

other news, developments and resources that will help support members as learners.

how unionlearn are

The term Supporting Learners is used by un-

ionlearn to describe the activities of ULRs and other union reps when they are working with members to help them make choices about learning, to take up learning opportunities that are right for them and help them to progress in their jobs and careers. Whilst these activities involve some elements of information and advice they also

include mentoring, coaching, signposting and facilitating learning. There is a Supporting Learners area on the unionlearn website, for information visit: http:// /advice

Stop Press! New All-age Careers Service in England The Skills Minister, John Hayes announced the Coalition Government‟s vision for the first allage careers service in England in November saying that „Careers guidance is the engine room of social mobility and social justice.‟ The new service will build on the best of Next Step and Connexions and provide a fully joined up service for all age groups. The new service will be founded on the core principles of independence and professionalism. Both young people aged 13-19 and adults will be able to access the new service from September 2011 with it becoming fully operational by April 2012.

There will be a new branding that will include the term „careers‟. The all-age careers service will be delivered through a range of channels – online, telephone and in the community – with prioritised intensive face-toface guidance. It is understood that the Coalition Government wants to „raise the professional standard bar‟ to one which could be easily recognised and easily inspected and will work towards the Level 6 (Honours degree) qualification level becoming the practice standard. There will also be a consultation on the development of a „licence to practice‟.

Although unionlearn is representing unions in all the key strategic forums to ensure that the needs of unions and those in work are considered there will obviously be some issues for unions who want to work at a professional level to deliver services. Further information will be provided through these newsletters and on the unionlearn website http:// as it becomes available. John Hayes speech on the new all-age careers service is available at news/speeches/ minister/john-hayes

Inside this issue: What has happened to Skills Accounts?


New Union Learning Fund Prospectus


Your chance to tell us what you think!


Supporting Learners Progression Pathways Guide


Thinking about higher level Learning?


Supporting Learners Event Dates


Other News


Contact Us



What has happened to Skills Accounts? Skills Accounts have changed to become Next Step Accounts. This means that if you or a member already has a Skills Account it can be used by registering with Next Step. Go to http:// and follow the link to register and use My Next Step Account, which is a free online place where a record of

activities and actions relating to a person‟s learning and career development can be kept. According to the White Paper „Skills for Sustainable Growth‟ Skills Accounts will be replaced by a Lifelong Learning Account which will provide: - Access to various forms of financial sup-

port for learning - Incentives for learning, including a means of recognising the social contribution made through volunteering - Access to personalised information about previous learning and qualifications as well as information on the wage and employment benefits of different courses

- Access to the new allage careers service alongside the personalised information in their account. Further information about Lifelong Learning Accounts will be provided through these newsletters and on the unionlearn website: as it becomes available.

New Union Learning Fund Prospectus published for 2011/2014 The key themes and priorities for Round 14 of the ULF are: - Engaging disadvantaged learners - Tackling skills gaps

and shortages - Developing high performing workplace

- Reaching out to nonunionised workplaces This includes

“developing the ULR role in supporting learners and helping individuals in the workplace to access good careers advice and guidance and strengthening links

with Next Step providers.” The new Supporting Learners strategy will outline the ways that unionlearn can help unions to achieve this in their ULF projects.

Your chance to tell us what you think! Many of you are using or referring your members to the online resources available on the unionlearn learning and careers advice service at: /uladvice and have told us that you find the Course Search, CV Builder and Job Profiles

useful resources. Don‟t forget that as well as the online resources there is also the unionlearn learning and careers advice helpline that has a dedicated telephone number 08000 92 91 90 (free from a landline). The advice line is available

between 8am and 10pm daily and you can call it yourself or on behalf of a member. The advice line is operated by Next Step advisers who understand the needs of ULRs, other union reps and union learners. The service can be accessed in 9 languages for those whose first language is

not English. Give them a call to find out how they can help you and your members. If you‟re not sure why not try it as a mystery shopper? Tell us how you get on by contacting Ian Borkett at or 020 7079 6940.

Supporting Learners - Progression Pathways Guide This new guide is currently at the design stage but will be available to ULRs and other reps who are involved in supporting union learners early in the New Year. It will be launched on the Supporting Learners area of the unionlearn website /advice and you will be able to order a printed copy or download it directly from the website. Here are some of the things you will find in the guide: Reasons for progression, Possible progression pathways,

Making the right decisions and Help with the cost of learning. This new publication will be an additional resource for ULRs and other reps about their own development and progression through their work in supporting

union learners. Information about progression opportunities from TUC Education through to NVQs in Advice & Guidance and qualifications in coaching, mentoring and tutoring are included.


Thinking about higher level learning? Whatever the level you are starting from higher level learning may be for you. You won‟t need to have already achieved a particular level of qualification to get into higher learning as your previous experi-

ence from learning and work will be taken into account. Unionlearn will be providing a one stop shop for everything you need to know about higher learning opportunities when it launches its

„Higher Learning at work‟ microsite: /higherlearningatwork The microsite will draw together a range of free resources and tools from unionlearn and its partners the Open Uni-

versity, Foundation Degree Forward and the Lifelong Learning Networks. There will be a direct link to the site at www.higherlearningatw but this will not be operational until the end of January 2011.

Supporting Learners Event Dates A series of regional Supporting Learners events will be taking place early in 2011. The events are free to ULRs and other reps, project workers and people from other network organisations.

What‟s new in supporting learners and the network, Working with Next Step, Sharing local and regional information, the Climbing Frame and Using unionlearn higher learning resources.

Activities will include:

The events will run from

10am through to 3pm and will take place on the following dates: Bristol: 11th January London: 28th January Leeds: 3rd February Birmingham: 10th February

Manchester: 16th February Newcastle: 14th March For more information visit: /events or email Louisa Shaw:

Other News Matrix Update The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) is on track to have a new provider in place by January 2011 to manage and develop the Matrix Standard. Although the new provider will start to deliver the assessment and accreditation service from January they will be addressing the backlog of accreditations as well as dealing with new requests for assessment. The new provider will also be responsible for trialling the revised Matrix standard. Following the trials they will agree a transition plan for implementing the revised standard with both BIS and the Skills Funding Agency.

The Skills Funding Agency has a contractual requirement that publicly funded Information Advice and Guidance must be delivered to the Matrix Standard. This means that delivery partners of the current Next Step and the future all-age careers service will be required to either hold the Matrix Standard, be working towards achieving it or at the very least commit to start the accreditation process within six months of any contract being signed.

- Their Matrix Standard accreditation is due for renewal - They are in the process of undergoing assessment for accreditation - They are committed to start the accreditation process within six months of contracts being signed - They have not committed to start but were due to commit. Future updates on the Matrix Standard will be posted in the „Providers‟ area of the Skills Funding Agency website http://

During the changeover period any organizations will have their timeline extended to the 1st of June 2011 if: Sector Skills Council (SSC) changes announced

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has announced that Lifelong Learning UK (LLUK) will not be relicensed as a SSC in its own right after the 31st March 2011. Discussions are underway to identify the best alternative arrangements for the work of LLUK which will take effect from the 1st April details of which will be announced in due course. In the meantime LLUK will continue to deliver on its plans and commitments. For up to date information on developments visit the „Latest News‟ area of the LLUK website at http://


Contact Us If you require further information on any of the topics in this briefing then please contact your Regional Officer with responsibility for Supporting Learners:

Midlands region

Northern region

Paul Humphreys

Dave Storrie

0121 236 4454

0191 227 5561

North West region

Southern and Eastern region

John Halligan

Jon Tennison

0151 236 2321

020 7467 1342

South West region

Yorkshire and the Humber region

Ros Etheridge

Sharon Burke

0117 947 0521

0113 200 1073

Or Ian Borkett

Louisa Shaw

Quality and Standards Manager

Climbing Frame Development Officer

020 7079 6940 020 7079 6934

For more information about unionlearn please visit: Unionlearn Congress House Great Russell Street London WC1B 3LS Phone: 020 7079 6920 Fax: 020 7079 6921 Email:

Supporting learners news issue 2  

This is the second in a series of newsletters that has been produced to keep unionlearn staff, unions, project workers, union learning reps...