One of the UK’s leading food producers, Northern Foods, has signed a ground-breaking training agreement with three separate unions.
The multi-union national learning agreement – with the Bakers, Food, and Allied Workers Union, the Transport & General Workers Union (T&G) and the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers – will give the company’s 25,000 employees access to a wide range of courses from numeracy and literacy through to languages and the European computer driving licence.
The company has agreed with unions to expand learning centres as well as use government learning initiatives such as ‘skills for life’ in conjunction with the union initiatives.
Norman Pickavance, Northern Foods’ corporate services director, said the company wanted to offer all staff the opportunity to learn new skills that will help them at work and in their personal lives.
“Succeeding in this programme forms a vital part of our wider productivity agenda,” he said. “Providing access to knowledge, learning and development is a key strand of our commitment to build a good place to work for our employees.”
Liz Smith, director of Unionlearn, the TUC’s body set up to help unions develop and diversify their education provision, called the agreement “a wonderful example of a partnership between an employer and three committed unions working together to offer learning and skills to its workforce”.
“Better skilled workers gain confidence in themselves and their work, which ultimately means a better bottom line for business,” she said. “Northern Foods is playing its part in tackling the skills crisis that the UK is facing.”
Jim Mowatt, T&G director of education, said was one of the biggest learning agreements ever signed.
“It will open up wide ranging opportunities for workers to improve their skills in areas from literacy to languages, and gives members the chance to build their confidence in learning for the needs of the changing workplace,” he said.