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£3m Boost to Union Learning Fund


Around 70,000 more people are expected to benefit from training and development at work this year due to £3 million in new contracts recently awarded by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC), through the Union Learning Fund.

A large proportion of the funding will go towards setting up and training a network of Union Learning Representatives (ULRs). ULRs work with employers and their staff to identify people with training needs and help them access the most appropriate course.

Director of Skills for Employment at the LSC said: “Many people find it difficult to admit that they lack skills such as literacy and numeracy. The benefit of Union Learning Representatives is that they are seen very much as colleagues who can be trusted. There are currently 12,000 ULRs and we are now able to fund another 4,000 in '05-06.”

For 2005/06 unions as diverse as GMB and the Musicians Union have been won funding and as a result over 300 new learning agreements will be signed by employers.

Steve Wellings is project manager for the GMB project Caretrain, which is helping to ensure all care sector staff achieve the vocational qualifications required by the Care Standards Act 2000.

Whilst every care home must ensure that 50% centre of carers are trained to NVQ Level 2 by 2006 the GMB has set up a three-year project with funding through the Union Learning Fund to assist all of the staff to achieve the required standard.

Wellings said: "Many staff are reluctant to participate in training because of poor basic skills and low self-confidence. That's why we are developing a network of learning reps to help people who have traditionally been excluded from learning to take advantage of these new opportunities."

The Union Learning Fund was set up in 1998 to help unions to encourage learning in the workplace so that employees are able to develop their skills and achieve their full potential. To date over 170,000 people from more than 50 trade unions have completed courses, involving 4,000 different workplaces.


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