By now many of you would have heard about the #SaveUnionLearning campaign, you may have even signed the petition or even written to your MP. But how important is union learning, and if the funding for union learning is ended how will this really effect you?

First, let me start with a small account of the history of the union learning fund. The fund was established in 1998 under the then new elected Labour government, the fund was a landmark achievement and has since been supported by all governments regardless of their political standing. The fund enables unions to have learning projects which work with employers and employees regardless of union membership to:

  • support the training of union learning representatives
  • develop and open workplace learning centers
  • identify skills gaps in the workplace
  • work with the community

In general, to bring education and learning to those individuals who would otherwise have missed out.

The fund costs the government in the region of £12.5 million (less than 1% of the Department for Education’s total budget) yet for each £1 spent it returns over £12 back into the economy, it is without doubt one of the most successful projects that the government funds.

I have personally been involved with the ULF and unionlearn one way or another since 2002. I was the lead ULR with the CWU Derby for a number of years, and during that time I have seen many individuals grow in confidence, achieve qualifications that they never thought possible, and improve their life’s and the lives of their families. They have achieved this through the help and support that ULR’s and unionlearn have provided, they have had access to training, new skills, and courses that they would never otherwise have had access to. The benefits to the employer, society, and the economy far outweigh any initial costs that the government spend, and the benefits to the individual are immeasurable.

Currently your URTU learning project is supporting many learners in a number of ways, we are either offering advice and guidance on the CPD, career changes, redundancy support and other learning opportunities, and or supporting learners in and out of the workplace with learning such as functional skills. I am currently working with an educational provider who is delivering functional skills at Clipper Ollerton. With the support of Mark Ruthven, the onsite ULR, we are currently on the third group of employees who are undertaking functional English courses. Despite the exceedingly difficult year that we have all faced the provider is still managing to engage with the learners, which can only be done with the cooperation of the employer, the union and via the ULR.

The union learning fund is there for the benefit of everyone, workplace community, your family, friends, and you, the fund through its various projects directly supports over a quarter of a million individuals a year. We have helped workplaces re-skill and up-skill, getting them and their employees ready for the workplace challenges that lay ahead. We have also directly supported individuals in career changes, promotion opportunities and their own personal development.

Without the union learning fund thousands of individuals will miss out on the learning, training and re-skilling opportunities, the employer and the economy will be all the poorer for it, and worst of all individuals will not have the help, advice and support needed to help them reach their full potential.

Please join the many unions, employers, providers, and politicians from all political parties who are supporting the #SaveUnionLearning campaign, your help is vital in reversing the government’s decision.