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Backing for learning at work from the Union Learning Fund


Over twenty new projects to boost learning at work got the green light from Adult Skills Minister John Healey today. The ceramic and knitwear industries are two of the groups set to benefit from more than £4 million from the Union Learning Fund. The money helps trade union members access learning and training opportunities in the workplace.

John Healey said: "The Union Learning Fund is now in its fifth year and is going from strength to strength. Over 300 projects, worth £21 million have received a cash injection from the Government to boost a wide range of learning since 1998. Many of these projects target ‘hard to reach’ learners such those who work part time, freelance or on a shift system – giving them a second chance to improve their education and training. Investing in workforce development is a win-win situation which benefits the individual, their employer and the economy as a whole. People are an employer’s greatest asset and the skills they possess are vital to increasing their life chances and national productivity. I am pleased to see that more and more employers and investing time and money in training as they increasingly recognise the value of a highly skilled workforce.

"The Union Learning Fund is a central plank of our workforce development strategy and the money we are giving today underlines the Government’s commitment to training and development amongst workers. Trade unions, and union learning representatives in particular, are putting learning on the top of their agendas. The Employment Bill currently going through Parliament will give them statutory backing which will raise their profile and increase their number."

The Government’s Union Learning Fund began in 1998. The Fund finances projects to increase union capacity to encourage and support learning in the workplace. For the Fund, the Government has allocated £7m for 2001-2 (£6m plus £1m for basic skills) £9m for 2002-3 (£7m plus £2m for basic skills) and £11m for 2003-4 (£8m plus £3m for basic skills). In the fifth round 23 projects received a total of £4,146,905. Evaluations of the Union Learning Fund and of the Union Learning Representatives role have been carried out on behalf of the Department for Education and Skills and the TUC by independent consultants. A research brief of the evaluation and further information on the ULF can be found on their website.


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