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Home > News > July 2004 > 08-Jul-2004

Funding announced for new Trade Union learning projects

Employees in 27 Trade Unions across the country will be able to improve their skills with £14 million of Government money for new Union Learning Fund projects announced today.

Giving approval for 46 separate projects at the annual Union Learning Fund conference in London, Education and Skills Secretary, Charles Clarke said: "Trade Unions have always been at the forefront of education and training, helping to bring lifelong learning opportunities to their members, many of whom may be non-traditional learners. This is why the Government remains fully committed to the Union Learning Fund.

"This seventh annual round of approved bids brings the total number of Union Learning Fund projects to over 450, representing an investment of £40m since 1998.

"A recent TUC survey showed that over 50% of Union Learning Representatives now have a formal learning agreement with their employers to help them target support for those who need training most. The majority of union officials see learning as a core union activity and are helping make a reality of the culture we all aspire to where every job is a learning job.

"Today’s 46 new projects will help promote a lifelong learning culture in industries as diverse as graphics, acting and broadcasting, finance, bakery, lecturing, and the railways enabling members across England to access new learning and training opportunities.

"Trade unions and the TUC are central to the Government's Skills Strategy, published in July 2003. Union Learning Fund projects have been successful at reaching out to people who traditionally have been left out of learning opportunities, such as shift and part-time workers.

"The Union Learning Fund is an unsung success story in this country, helping to establish a network of Union Learning Representatives who can encourage low skilled adults in the workplace to upgrade their skills".

The 46 new ULF projects which will benefit employees such as fire-fighters, youth workers and Council workers. Projects include:

  • Lifelong learning access for staff and the community, and on-site e-learning facilities at a biscuit factory in West Yorkshire
  • A Learning Centre at Watford for fire union members, their families and the local community
  • Computer training to raise skills for council workers at Blackburn with support from a network of Union Learning Representatives.

The Government’s Union Learning Fund was introduced in 1998 to finance Union-led projects to encourage and support learning in the workplace. Including additional finance for the development of Union Learning Representative activities, announced in the 2003 budget, the total funding is now £14.2m for 2004-5 and £14.4 million for 2005-6.

Union Learning Representatives offer a wide range of advice and support to their fellow workers on workplace learning. Work typically covers organising and carrying out learning needs analyses, working with local colleges to provide on-site courses and staffing learning centres in the workplace. Now numbering more than 7,000, their position is further strengthened by legislation in the Employment Act 2002 which granted them statutory rights to carry out their duties.

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