Government grants £14m to Union Learning Fund

The
Government has announced it will earmark £14m for the Union Learning Fund,
marking a massive increase in funding to promote the skills of union members.

The
fund, which is designed to help improve the skills of members in 27 trade
unions and is now in its seventh year, has received a total of £40m since 1998.

The
seventh annual round of approved bids brings the total number of Union Learning
Fund projects to more than 450.

Giving
approval for 46 separate projects at the annual Union Learning Fund conference
in London, education and skills secretary Charles Clarke said the new projects
would help promote a life-long learning culture in industries as diverse as
graphics, acting, broadcasting, finance, bakery, lecturing, and the railways.

Clarke
said: “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,” he said.

Union
learning representatives’ work typically covers organising and carrying out
learning needs analysis, 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.

By Michael Millar

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