All too often the lion’s share of development opportunities have gone to the high-flyers, the people already blessed with good skills and qualifications. At the other end of the spectrum, far too many ordinary workers have missed out – part-time women workers with caring responsibilities; older workers out of learning for decades; migrant workers denied access to English language training; disabled workers suffering prejudice at work; and temporary and agency workers who often are simply off the radar when it comes to learning.
All of this goes some way to explaining why this country remains such an unequal place. And that’s why we in the trade union movement must see learning and skills as fundamentally about equality. Training and skills are crucial to better jobs, better prospects and a better quality of life for workers, families and whole communities.
Regardless of age, race, gender, class, sexual orientation, religion or belief, disability or the passport they hold, every worker should enjoy an equal chance to up-skill or learn something new at work. Union learning has a massive contribution to make in helping that goal become a practical reality – building individual and collective confidence, and dealing with discrimination, disadvantage and unfairness wherever we find it.
This publication brings together the voices of unions, partner organisations, practitioners and learners to highlight the range of barriers faced by many and to demonstrate what can be achieved through union learning. I hope it will inspire you to take this agenda forward in the months and years ahead. Let’s put equality and diversity at the heart of union learning. And let’s make learning part and parcel of the wider struggle for equality.
Guides for employers
The Equality and Human Rights Commission has recently published a series of equality related guides for employers. Follow these links for information you can use to supplement that which is available from your union and the TUC: