Swedish delegation visits Rolls-Royce learning programme

22 Nov

Pat Rafferty with Rolls-Royce learners during the Swedish visit

– by Pat McIlvogue

A delegation of Swedish trade unionists and academics visited Rolls-Royce Inchinnan in November to learn about the union-lead learning programme there. The delegation included representatives from the Swedish trade union IF Metall and Luleå University of Technology and several emplyers. IF Metall represents approximately 380,000 workers in a variety of different sectors including mining, mechanical engineering and textiles. IF Metall are currently working with A&O, a group of sociologists involved with continuous learning within workplaces and based at Luleå University of Technology.

The visit was organised by site convenor Gerry Docherty at the request of the STUC. The group visited Rolls-Royce to see a best practice model of work based learning facilitated through the ESF and other partners. As part of the visit Unite regional secretary Pat Rafferty presented certificates to Unite learners who had completed a Pensions course that was developed through our Collective Learning Partnership with Stow College.

The learning programme at Rolls-Royce, which is lead by Unite, is a ground breaking programme that aims to provide learning and skills to union members. It includes everything from support for everyday skills, through to specific competencies required by the workforce and Engineering and BA degrees delivered through the Open University. Learners are guided through progression routes to the qualifications that suit them best by experienced and committed union learning reps.

This follows a visit in March 2011, when the STUC hosted the delegation. The Swedes are  searching for partners in other EU member states already involved in ESF projects related to workplace learning. They are also interested in meeting other stakeholders concerned with similar questions, such as researchers, trade unions, consultancy firms or other employers or employee organisations. They are interested in exchanging views, methods and best practices with a view to identifying those practices which have European-wide application and can be recommended and promoted within the private and public sector in Sweden.

Members of IF Metall generally have a low level of education and are vulnerable to structural changes. IF Metall are delivering a European funded project which aims to improve the educational attainment of their members. Employers are strongly engaged in the project and workers are given time off to attend the training courses.

The delegates had a number of questions for us, including:

  • Has the company offered the employees to participate in the changes regarding training at the company?
  • How do you analyse the training needs, is there individual development plans?
  • Are analysis tools used to develop education needs?
  • Have the participants of the training received a certification on their new knowledge?
  • Are there any models for how to document the everyday learning, the ongoing learning that is done in companies?
  • Is equality a topic that you discuss at the company? If you are, in what ways?
  • Have the unions been proactive in the equality and the accessibility issues ?

Feedback was very positive with the delegation expressing that our model was inventive and comprehensive. We were able to explain that we use an online survey tool to collect and analyse data, which is then used to negotiate learning with the employer and other partners. Learning has also been used in the equalities agenda, and the learning programme resulted in the union recruiting and developing its first women rep on site.

This is the presentation that we delivered:


The delegation consisted of:

  1. Billy Moström – Union, IF Metall Höga Kusten
  2. Esbjörn Jonsson – Union, IF Metall Höga Kusten
  3. Anders Frederiksen – Union, IF Metall Höga Kusten
  4. Jenny Nilsson – Union, IF Metall Höga Kusten
  5. Conny Hansson – Union, IF Metall Mellersta Norrland
  6. Anders Ovemar – Union, IF Metall Höga Kusten (High Coast)
  7. Daniel Eriksson – Company, Nord-Lock
  8. Jonas Wikman – Company, BAE Systems
  9. Lars Melin – Company, HL Display
  10. Stina Johansson – Luleå University

For more information on lifelong with Unite and Rolls-Royce, contact Pat McIlvogue.



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