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Home > News > October 2006 > 13 October 2006

Northern Foods signs National Learning Agreement

Northern Foods has signed a multi-union National Learning Agreement designed to give their employees access to a wide range of courses from numeracy and literacy through to languages and the European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL).

In partnership with the Bakers, Food, and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU), the Transport & General Workers Union (T&GWU) and the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (USDAW), Northern Foods aims to make learning and development opportunities accessible to all employees.

The company expects to achieve this through a range of initiatives including the development of its on-site learning centres. Northern Foods currently has five fully operational on-site learning centres with a further three under development.

In addition, the company will use government and union learning initiatives such as Skills for Life and will work with organisations such as unionlearn, the TUC's learning and skills project, College providers and Sector Skills Councils.

Commenting on the signing of the agreement, Norman Pickavance, Northern Foods' corporate services director, said: "We want to offer all our people the opportunity to learn new skills which will help them not only at work but also in their personal lives.

"Succeeding in this programme forms a vital part of our wider productivity agenda. Providing access to knowledge, learning and development is a key strand of our Corporate Responsibility commitment to build a good place to work for our employees."

Liz Smith, director of unionlearn, said: "This is a wonderful example of a partnership between an employer working with unionlearn and three committed unions to offer the best in learning and skills to its workforce.

"Northern Foods joins the many employers who have realised that better skilled workers gain confidence in themselves and their work, which ultimately means a better bottom line for business. Northern Foods is playing its part in tackling the skills crisis that the UK is facing."

Dorban Ippoma, national project manager from the BFAWU, said: "We can begin to build on this agreement in terms of structuring an effective learning and training programme that will open doors for employees to progress individually and acquire qualifications."

Jim Mowatt, T&G director of education and international department, said: "This is one of the biggest learning agreements we have ever signed, covering 20,000 workers in 36 sites across the country. It will open up wide ranging opportunities for workers to improve their skills in areas from literacy to languages, and gives members the chance to build their confidence in learning for the needs of the changing workplace."

John Hannett, USDAW general secretary, said: "This agreement demonstrates how seriously the three unions and Northern Foods take the learning agenda. For our members, getting the chance to keep their skills up to date is not just a 'nice to have' but is absolutely vital to their employability."

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