TUC Education attracts a huge range of learners and significant numbers of non traditional learners. For many it is their first formal learning opportunity since leaving school, for others it might be a chance to attain school level qualifications and for some it builds on university level achievements.
Each year over 100,000 trade unionists enrol in trade union education courses organised by the TUC or by its affiliated unions. Those arranged by the TUC are attended by representatives of member unions. These include:
- Union reps (stewards)
- Health and safety reps
- Union learning reps
- Pension scheme trustees
- Equality reps
- Other trade union reps
- Union professionals
- Trade union tutors
Figures show that, during 2010, more than 57,000 union reps and more than 1,000 union professionals undertook a training course with TUC Education. With 15 consecutive Adult Learning Inspectorate/OFSTED Grade 1 outstanding inspection reports and an unrivalled reputation for quality and innovation in adult education, it is the TUC's flagship service, offering unrivalled access to Britain’s workplaces.
TUC Education, working with its partner the National Open College Network, has trade union qualifications in the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF). The framework recognises achievement through the award of credit for units and qualifications and provides flexible routes to gaining qualifications and the potential to enable qualifications to be achieved in small steps. None of this is new to TUC Education, which has offered units of credit to learners for more than sixteen years. However, the potential this affords to enable reps to gain qualifications for their achievements in learning and to use credits across the framework to achieve broader qualifications is very exciting.
Union representatives who wish to attend TUC courses in working time should first ask their employer for time off with pay. The Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 section 168 and the Safety Representatives & Safety Committee Regulations 1977 give accredited union and safety representatives a legal right to reasonable time off with pay to attend courses approved by the TUC or their union. Guidance towards establishing what constitutes reasonable time off can be found in the ACAS Code of Practice.
The role of the union learning representative has been boosted by new legal rights to time off for training contained in the Employment Relations Act 2001. Over 26,000 union learning representatives have already been trained.
Representatives who find difficulty in obtaining paid time off to attend TUC courses should seek assistance from their senior union representative or full time union officer. TUC Education has also produced a Training for Trade Union Workplace Reps – A Guide for Employers, a useful aid for union reps (PDF).
Online learning should not be seen as an alternative to paid release from work. The law still applies, whether learning takes place away from work or in work, at a workstation or in a company learning centre. For details of TUC courses that are available online contact Craig Hawkins email@example.com on 020 7079 6947.