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ISSUE 7, JUNE 2012

SUPPORTING LEARNERS NEWS Introduction This is the seventh 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: developments in the area of a publicly funded careers service that will affect existing structures and networks

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

The term ‘Supporting Learners’ is used by unionlearn 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

all levels of learning and 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: /advice

24+ Advanced Learning Loans: a new challenge For adults (24+) wanting to study from September 2013-14 at level 3 (Alevel equivalent) and level 4, BIS will withdraw subsidies and replace them with a loans system similar to higher education: subsidies for level 2 remain in place. This is probably the most significant and challenging development of the Government’s ‘New Challenges New Chances’ further education reform programme for unionlearn, ULRs and learners. Unionlearn has actually been very successful in supporting adult learners in further education. Between April 2010 and March 2011, 17,701 learners undertook FE programmes through union learning. And controversially there could be impacts on

apprenticeships as adults (24+) who undertake advanced apprenticeships will have to contribute to the cost of their study: that is unless the employer takes on the liability (NB support for 23 years and under taking up an apprenticeship remains the same). So unionlearn and trade unions collectively will be amongst the first to see the overall impact of these changes and face great challenges. However, there is some emerging evidence that it isn’t all bad news. BIS market research suggests that if FE loans are explained properly (i.e. you don’t pay anything up front and if you’re not earning over £21k, you don’t pay anything back) they shouldn’t necessarily be a deterrent going forward. Original concerns regarding

women and ethnic minorities being the most likely to be ‘put off’ were not supported by the research. The research did however identify that the over 40 age group is more ‘risk averse’ and more likely to be deterred from learning at this level. The experience and evidence of ULRs will be crucial in assessing the impact of loans and unionlearn will have a research programme to capture this. Unionlearn will need to make sure that ULRs have the right information and support to advise learners when the loans are introduced and developing strategies to mitigate against potential reductions in learners. This will be the subject of much greater consultation and discussion with ULRs over the next year. Watch this space!

For further information about 24+ Advanced Learning Loans contact Richard Blakeley, Policy Officer, at:

Inside this issue: The National Careers Service and The Right Advice at the Right Time


National Council to Raise Standards of Careers Advice


Consultation on Careers Guidance for Schools, Sixth Form Colleges and FE Institutions


plotr website


New Climbing Frame Learning Themes


Developing Business, Developing Careers


Contact Us



The National Careers Service and The Right Advice at the Right Time The new National Careers Service (NCS) was launched on 5th April 2012. The NCS is a free service for everyone aged 13 and over. It replaces the Next Step service for adults and the Connexions service for young people. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has provided £84.4m for the adult side of the service, however, the DfE has restricted its contribution to just over £4m to provide 370,000 young people with access

to a helpline. At the same time, BIS published the document “The Right Advice at the Right Time”, which sets out the Government’s vision for a better quality of information, advice and guidance on learning and work. The National Careers Service is also available to adults in a wide range of local community locations including dedicated premises, FE colleges, Jobcentres, community

centres, housing associations, libraries and council service outlets. Union members and reps will still be able to obtain information and advice through the unionlearn Learning and Careers Advice Service web portal uladvice and from the advice line on: 08000 92 91 90 Why not give an adviser a call today? Calls are free from a landline.

National Council to Raise Standards of Careers Advice Skills Minister John Hayes has appointed careers expert Dr Deirdre Hughes OBE as the Chair of the new National Council for Careers (NCC). The Council will be a driving force for excellence in careers guidance and will

provide independent, expert advice to the Government on the future development of the National Careers Service. The Council includes representatives from across the public, private

and third sector, as well as from the careers profession. The inaugural meeting of the Council was held on 21st May 2012, at the meeting members discussed the Terms of Reference and the future work streams. The NCC

will meet around four times a year and produce an Annual Report summarising its discussions and advice to Government.

Consultation on Careers Guidance for Schools, Sixth Form Colleges and FE Institutions This consultation seeks views on whether the new duty in the Education Act 2011 to secure access to independent and impartial careers guidance for

pupils in years 9-11 should be extended down to pupils in year 8 and upwards to young people up to the age of 18. The deadline for responses is

1st August 2012. Subject to this consultation and to the parliamentary process, the Government is aiming to amend the age range by regulations from

Inspiring the Future Inspiring the Future is a new free service which will see people from all sectors and professions volunteering to go into state schools and colleges to talk about their jobs, careers, and the education routes they took. Everyone from CEOs to apprentices can volunteer for Inspiring the Future. Recent graduates, school leavers and people in the early stages of their career can be inspirational to teenagers - being close in age they are easy to relate to; while senior and recently retired staff have a wealth of knowledge and experience to share. Volunteering for Inspiring the Future is free, easy, effective and fun. For more information visit:

September 2013. Further information is available on the DfE consultations website at consultations/


plotr Website The National Careers Service (NCS) provides high quality information and professional advice and guidance about learning at work. Its website and helpline are available to everyone. plotr will be a personal tool for young people, accessible online including through social media such as Facebook and Twitter. Its aim is to inspire them

and help them prepare for the world of work. Starting at age 11, young people will be able to build up a personal profile about their future, drawing on a range of information and advice services, including from Government. The NCS will be just one of the expert resources drawn on by plotr. plotr is an industry-led initiative. As it is a direct

response to a challenge to industry from the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, the Cabinet Office and BIS have each provided a one-off grant of £350,000 of match funding. In “The Right Advice at the Right Time” document the Government set out its vision for information, advice and guidance services in England. Beyond the role of the NCS, educational

institutions and local authorities, there should be a flourishing commercial market in products and services that help people make career choices. plotr is part of that market. For more information visit The website will launch in summer 2012.

New Climbing Frame Learning Themes On the 25th of June at the Unionlearn Annual Conference, unionlearn will be launching two new Climbing Frame Learning Themes. The titles of the new Learning Themes are

‘Equality, diversity and learning’ and ‘Supporting Learners at 50+’. These new Learning Themes are packed full of useful information for ULRs and other reps,

include a range of case studies and links to a wide range of resources. From the 25th all Climbing Frame users will have access to the new Learning Themes, along with the existing 14

unionlearn Learning Themes. To register and for more information about the Climbing Frame website visit: www.climbingframe.un

Developing Business, Developing Careers The key to a successful business is the ability to recruit the right people and maximise their potential. Focusing on the career development needs of staff can help businesses succeed and a new publication from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills provides case studies which highlight the business benefits of this approach. ‘Developing business, Developing careers’ contains case studies from seven major employers, including Morrisons Supermarkets, Bupa and Barclaycard, and looks at the approaches they have

taken. The activities are diverse, underlining that there isn’t just one angle to take and what works for one business may not be the best strategy for another. The case studies include: Morrisons’ work with a social enterprise; Barclaycard’s partnership arrangements with a trade union and Gentoo’s use of its career management structure to build a strong community brand. The publication is underpinned by a more detailed project report, ‘Tackling unemployment, supporting business and developing careers’ which draws on evidence

from a literature review, a call for evidence and empirical work with employers. The report highlights five areas as starting points for employers to consider and identifies some characteristics of good practice.

job seekers to realise mutual benefits. These publications have been produced by UKCES and are available from their website, visit:

The reports provide a starting point for businesses to think about how a focus on career development can benefit them. For policy makers and careers organisations it can help them consider how best a productive relationship can be developed between employers, career guidance providers and

and publications/developingbusiness-developingcareers publications/tacklingunemployment


Contact Us If you require further information on any of the topics in this newsletter then please contact your Regional Supporting Learners contact:

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

Rob Garrett

Sharon Burke

07899 966 358

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 7  

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

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