Lifelong Learning

Lifelong Learning in Unite

Unite has a lifelong learning programme that is active across all sectors of the Scottish economy. The learning programme provides union members – and their colleagues in workplaces where we have recognition – with opportunities to develop new skills.

We have learning agreements with prominent employers, including several NHS Boards, Remploy, Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems, First Group, Co-operative distribution, DHL, Strathclyde Partnership for Transport, National Australia Group, the Church of Scotland, local authorities and UKAEA.

Over the past year, three thousand union members have completed free, accredited learning, delivered at the workplace. We use learning agreements to create collective bargaining structures that challenge employers to invest in skills. By bargaining around skills, we can influence company policy, increase training budgets, and make access to training fairer and more transparent.

While it is essential – particularly in difficult economic times – that Scotland’s workers have the skills they need, people have interests outside of work. For this reason, while we provide accredited courses in IT and other skills relevant to the modern workplace, we also offer members free courses in modern languages and other subjects. This generates a demand for skills, and helps turn workplaces into learning environments. We build partnerships to bring in the funding and expertise we need, and develop progression routes for our members. We use our political influence to argue that the skills landscape needs to be fundamentally altered by progressive legislation, with secure funding streams for adult learning.

We believe that lifelong learning is a proven strategy for renewing and strengthening the union. We have seen the evidence in significantly increased recruitment, more dynamic branches with more confident reps, and the progression of underrepresented groups – including women and disabled workers – into union leadership positions.

 

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