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Whole Organisation Approach Required for Learning and Skills Boost


A new report reveals that the most successful learning and skills strategies are those which involve the whole organisation.

The report, Skills for Life and the Whole Organisation Approach published by unionlearn, says this approach enables all those in the workplace to develop their skills whether this is basic literacy and numeracy or at undergraduate level.

Establishments which have adopted the Whole Organisation Approach are reported to have significantly increased awareness of Skills for Life (SfL).

According to the report all respondents said that their learners had an improved awareness of SfL as something that is everyone’s business, recognising the roles of the employer, employee and unions in addressing the skills shortage. This significant rise in awareness of Skills for Life is an important step in increasing the UK’s skills base.

According to the interim Leitch Review, 70 per cent of those who will be in the workplace in 2020 are already there now, so the UK cannot rely on new entrants for new skills. If we are not to fall drastically behind Germany and France, as currently predicted, we must focus on training the current workforce. Skills for Life is an integral part of this.

Unionlearn is the TUC’s learning and skills project which, through union learning reps has enabled over 100,000 people to access courses over the last year. It aims to get over 250,000 people back into education by the end of the decade.

Liz Smith, director of unionlearn said: “This report highlights the importance of Skills for Life in the workplace. Many people feel more comfortable discussing what they want in the way of learning and training with other colleagues who have done a similar thing. Through union learning reps in the workplace, who have first-hand experience of going back into learning, they feel confident enough to change their lives.”

One respondent to the report said: “Most learners welcome initial assessment when it is explained in the context of their progression and success. Learners are achieving better results in tests and our retention rate has increased.”

Another said: “We are capturing learners who may not have come forward to progress with numeracy or literacy but they feel comfortable to discuss and take forward their learning once the support has been discussed regarding SfL.”

A copy of the report, which was published by unionlearn in partnership with learndirect, the Whole Organisation Approach and the European Social Fund, can be downloaded from:


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