UnionLearn for Life Long Learning

UnionLearn is the TUC's department for education. Find out about courses for Union Learning Reps, how to negotiate learning agreements and time off for Basic Skills courses for your members and much more -

Find out about the UnionLearn Workplace Reps courses for 2011

Find out about UnionLearn courses for Health and Safety Reps for 2011

Find out about the UnionLearn courses for Union Learning Reps for 2011

Find out about the UnionLearn courses for Equality Reps for 2011

NUT slams government plans for teachers to work to 68 before they retire

Joe Cotton's EMA speech at NUT conference gets ovation

Government refuses to change student loan interest from RPI to its own recommended CPI

TUC - Quality apprenticeships should be at the heart of vocational training

Hundreds of students turn up to Heathrow Apprentice Fair

Huge cuts to funds to teach English for Speakers of Other Languages

Cutting skills places for fewer apprenticeships is madness

Nick Clegg refuses to apologise to students over u-turn on fees

The David Cameron guide to getting a good graduate job

Government says it will not extend right to request traing to small/medium businesses

The government has turned its back on plans to allow workers at companies with less than 250 employees to have the right to request training. Brndan Barber of the TUC has unsurprisingly criticised the coalition for its u-turn on this long awaited change.

16th February 2011

Ed Milliband says that next generation have been "betrayed by spending cuts"

The Independent reports on a speech from Ed Milliband that condemns coalition cuts to education spending that will reduced career opportunities and social mobility. Mr. Milliband is making social mobility one of the 3 main platforms of the opposition and we hope that protection and reinstatement of opportunities for education will be central to his plans.

5th February 2011

Campaign to save Britain's libraries gets underway

A nationwide campaign to save 450 of Britain's libraries from closures due to government cuts has begun, with a series of around 80 protests planned across the country. Authors and celebrities including Phillip Pullman, Julia Donaldson, Mark Haddon, John Dougherty, and Billy Bragg are among those who will be taking part. In some areas such as Warwickshire, Dorset and Doncaster, over half of libraries are scheduled for closure. Somerset County Council had planned to close 20 of its 34 libraries but reconsidered after strong protests from local people.

The TUC considers libraries to be essential to Lifelong Learning, where all workers are encouraged to continue to learn new skills throughout their lives. Many people now rely on their libraries not just for books, but access to the internet and e-mail, so this will hit those who cannot afford their own computers particularly hard.

4th February 2011

English for Speakers of Other Languages

Do you feel held back from getting a better job because of the standard of your spoken or written English? There are courses run all across the country that can help you improve your skills and give you a better chance at getting that promotion or even a complete career change. Find out what's on offer at the link below -

Lifelong Learning is a set of principles supported by the TUC that encourages all workers to develop their skills continuously so that they continue to expand their horizons, create opportunities for promotion and are well prepared if the need arises for a change of job - especially relevent in these times when job cuts are happening across the country.

This site highlights what sort of learning opportunities are available and presents opinions about the way that adult education choices have been affected by the current political and economic climate.

Basic Computer Skills

Many jobs require at least some level of ability to use a computer. Unfortunately many basic courses in computing are quite expensive and those that are free are often in short supply. Here are a few suggestions.

1. Check out if your company offers any basic courses in Basic Computer Skills. The reason for starting here is that they will recognise any course that they run as being valid, but they might not recognise one run by someone else. If your company has a Union Learning Representative, ask them if it is possible to get release from your normal duties to attend.

2. See if your union runs any courses directly for their members. Unions normally have a tiny fraction of the budgets of the big companies, so they are sometimes only able to offer courses for their representatives. Again, if you have a Union Learning Representative in your workplace, that's the best place to start.

3. Assuming that you've got a computer and access to the internet (if not - how come you're reading this?) then try some of the free courses online. We've not tried these courses, so they might not be brilliant. We'd like to hear from you if you think they're any good or if you've found anything better.

4. Visit your local library, citizens' advice bureau, civic centre or adult education college. Unfortunately - due to cutbacks in the education budget, there may be a limited range of courses available in your borough, especially for shift workers. Some of them may also be rather expensive. The government lists a number of courses on their web site below, but I wasn't able to find anything that looked especially suitable for Heathrow shift workers. You may do better.

The government's skills organiser is a company called Next Step. You can contact them on their freephone number 0800 100 900 between 08.00 and 22.00 seven days a week.

Unite courses for Reps

The Unite website lists the 2011 courses for the various types of reps including workplace reps (stewards), H&S reps, union learning reps, equality reps and special courses for reps with a responsibility for assisting women and black, asian and ethnic minorities.

Learning Revolution takes off at Heathrow

Unite's Heathrow Cab Section with the support of the of the Heathrow Liaison Committee laid on an open day at Unite’s Bath Road offices last week to highlight the types of training on offer for workers keen to expand their skills and to boost their CVs. Event organiser and chairman of Heathrow’s pan-union learning forum, Danny Freeman, explained: “This event was all about showing Unite members what is on offer in terms of free training, but it was also about seeking support to expand the facility for all workers on the airport. “We are currently in talks with BAA to open a new multi union learning centre in the airport itself, to make it easier for people to get training while they work. BAA are actively looking at areas where it could be located“.

Last Friday’s event saw MP John McDonnell, Unite’s director of education Jim Mowatt and top economist Richard Ross give presentations, which showed the benefits of adult learning. Tutors were also on hand to explain what free government funded courses in numeracy, literacy and IT were available. The event was funded by the TUC as part of their ‘Learning Revolution’. The team also used the occasion to present several taxi drivers with certificates they had recently earned from a free IT course organised by the union. To liven up the afternoon’s events, a Latin American Youth Forum also made an appearance, putting on a short play for the scores of workers who dropped by.

Danny, who is a London taxi driver by day, added “I came along and it made it such a success. It was a fantastic occasion, which has hopefully encouraged workers at Heathrow to continue with their life long learning journey. “More events like this one are being planned for the future. If you want to find out more about Union Learning and what it can offer you, contact your Union Learning Rep in your branch or Danny directly at -

Stop for a Bite

Welcome to Stop for a Bite, a unique resource providing access to a wide variety of online learning selected especially for taxi drivers, their families and associates. And you can get started today!

The concept is easy. Taxi drivers are busy people who don't have time to attend classes to improve their knowledge or pick up new skills. E-learning provides the answer through bite-sized chunks delivered to your computer.

Dan Freeman, Branch Secretary of the Unite Heathrow Cab Section said,"Unite the Union is committed to lifelong learning and the Cab section is always looking at ways of delivering education to our drivers. We are delighted to be able to offer high-quality education through this innovative new e-learning site."

City and Guilds

The City and Guilds is a popular way of gaining extra qualifications because its courses are designed to help you with your career in a particular industry rather than being simply academic. They still need a lot of time and hard work, but you will probaly have a better idea about what the qualification can achieve than with a course at a university.

Many of the City and Guilds courses are for "vocational" qualifications - that is that they are based around a specific type of work or industry such as taking an NVQ (National Vocational Qualification) in Aviation Operations. The way that qualifications are rated is different to universities and graded from entry level (for those with little or no previous academic experience) to level 8 (which is assessed by City and Guilds as being approximately equivalent to or better than an advanced degree, though employer requirements may vary). Take a look at their courses below.

The Open University

Want to go to university? No, it's not Oxbridge, but several MPs including cabinet ministers are among the 2 million people who got their qualifications here over the past 40 years. It's can also be a good bit less expensive than the standard way of "going up" to university.

Of course, it still needs a real committment to hard work over an extended period and you will need to put a fair chunk of time aside for coursework, but the OU is still the no. 1 choice for many people seeking qualifications while holding down a job. You can't go straight to taking a degree unless you've already got qualifications that count as "credits" towards the Foundation Level that is needed to do the degree level.

If you just want to broaden you education, but you're not really bothered about getting a qualification, you could start by going to the Open University's free web site which has several hundred articles on a range of subjects. This part of the OU is called Open Learn and you might want to check it out before you decide whether or not you want to commit to a course that is likely to take a few years to complete.

National Institute for Adult Continuing Education

A group that has been promoting adult learning for 90 years.

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