We have done a question and answer session with Paul Stokes, an URTU member working for FTX Logistics around his learning journey.

What is your role within FTX?

FTX Logistics Limited are contracted to provide heavy lifting equipment for the British Army, this includes a number of Heavy Equipment Transporters (HETs).  My role covers several responsibilities including driving and training HETs, annual assessment and delivering driver CPC sessions.

How long have you been a Union Learning Representative (ULR)?

I have carried out the role of ULR on behalf of the union for 4 years.

Why did you become a ULR?

After talking with a Shop Steward around learning, I decided that I would like to take up the role of a ULR as this fitted well with my duties as an instructor, and my passion for learning.

How did you train to become a ULR?

There were several options regarding training, from attending a residential course to online training.  With regards to my other commitments and availability of residential courses, it was decided that the most suitable option to undertake the online course with the support of my employer who gave me paid leave to complete this.

How to you keep up to date with learning developments?

I subscribe to the projects newsletter which contains various learning opportunities that are available, and my project worker keeps me appraised of any new learning opportunities.

How do you promote learning within the workplace?

Due to the nature of the business and the majority of workers being dispersed across the UK,  I rely of various social media or digital applications such as WhatsApp messaging to promote learning, as well as the company’s intranet.  I have put up various flyers and posters around the main office, and word of mouth plays a great part in spreading the latest offers and events.

We have also manged to set up a Steering group which is attending by myself, the finance director, the training manger and the URTU project worker.  This allows us to facilitate processes and learning which has included the training of three mangers and three URTU members as Mental Health First Aiders; something that is particularly relevant during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

What have the biggest challenges and rewards been?

Getting the company on board was an initial challenge but once they understood the importance of learning and how this benefits both the company and its employees they were supportive.  It is also a challenge getting my colleagues on board with many thinking that ‘you can never teach an old dog new tricks’, but and once they saw that no matter what age you may be there is something for everyone.

What learning has taken place in our workplace since becoming a ULR?

Due to the unique geographic nature of the business with the majority of the workforce dispersed not only across the UK but many supporting the army abroad, online study seems the best fit for all.  We are currently trialling a new online way of undertaking functional skills in English, if this is success, we will roll it out throughout the whole workforce.

I have also promoted online CPD courses as this fits around the leaners work/life balance, one particular learner has completed several CPD courses while deployed in Estonia. 

What types of learners do you have planned?

I am hoping to get an online tournament going, this will be open to not only employees but also the employer.  The tournament will be hosted through an online platform called Kahoot, it is free and very easy to use and simple to register within a couple of clicks.  Once you have completed the multiples choice questions and you can see your score on a leader board, and even have another go to try and better your score.

What advice would you give to other ULR’s promoting learning in their workplace?

The first thing I would suggest is to get your employer on board, as this can be a great help in promoting and undertaking learning.  I would also recommend that you take full advantage of all the resources available to you, and finally to keep at it and your hard work will pay off.  I could not have achieved this without the support of my project worker.

Agnieszka Zamonski who is a project worker for URTU Learning works with Paul Stokes said “Paul has been a great advocate of lifelong learning and has put a lot of effort into encouraging employees at FTX Logistics to take up new learning opportunities.  Thanks to his involvement and through the learning partnership with the employer we have been able to build on the government current learning initiatives and promote equal access to learning opportunities. Paul’s story highlights the importance of having a Union Learning Representative in each workplace.”

To find out more about the ULR role, go to: https://www.unionlearn.org.uk/union-learning-reps-ulrs

To sign up to receive the URTU Learning newsletter click on the following link: http://eepurl.com/dtx1Nj