How do ULRs and other union reps support union learners?
The role of the union rep, particularly the ULR, in supporting learners is in informing, advising, coaching, mentoring and signposting. The ULR is in the centre of the unionlearn network model.
How can unionlearn help?
The Strategy for Supporting Learners
The unionlearn Strategy for Supporting Learners (2011-14) has been developed to support the delivery of impartial learning and careers advice services to union learners. It is an underpinning strategy for all unionlearn activity with the primary aim of making all learning and progression opportunities available to all union members, particularly those who are disadvantaged in the workplace. The contribution of union learning representatives (ULRs) is vital to the success of this strategy.
The network model
Unionlearn works together with a network of organisations to make sure that union learners can get the information, advice and support they need to make choices about learning and progression at all levels that are right for them.
Who is in the unionlearn network?
- The ULR and other union reps
- Union learning centres and project workers
- The National Careers Service
- Learning and training providers
- Sector Skills Councils
Thousands of union learning representatives (ULRs) across the country are promoting training and learning in the workplace on behalf of union members. The unionlearn Quality Award is given to courses and programmes that meet our good practice criteria and that helps signpost ULRs to providers that are working successfully and flexibly with unions.
Learn more about the Quality Award.
All careers information and advice providers who receive public funding to deliver their services are required to be accredited or working towards the matrix quality standard.
The unionlearn learning and careers advice service was set up to make sure that reps have the backup they need from the network to make sure that the information they give is current and accurate and that they know who to refer learners to for professional advice and support.
The National Careers Service is a key partner in this service, providing a free, impartial and confidential service to help adults and young people to progress through learning, develop new skills, improve their job prospects or change jobs. The service is available online at, by telephone at 0800 100 900 (free from a landline), face-to-face (call the helpline number to make an appointment), and in different languages.
What support and resources are available for reps?
Unionlearn has developed a range of resources for reps and learners to help them to develop their skills and keep up to date.
The union learning Climbing Frame is a free website for ULRs to help them in their role of supporting learners in the workplace.
The Climbing Frame recognises that union learners have aspirations, experiences and skills which relate to all aspects of their lives: their current jobs, possible career routes and personal situations.
The Climbing Frame can be used to:
- Provide up to date information to help during discussions with learners
- Update ULRs about various learning opportunities
- Develop individual action plans with learners
- Keep records of sessions with learners
- Store local information and contacts
- Gather information about learner profiles to support negotiations with employers.
Climbing Frame Learning Themes include:
- Supporting Learners
- Personal and Professional Development
- Higher Learning
- Supporting Learners at 50+
- Progression for union reps.
Visit the Climbing Frame website.
This website is for anyone wishing to progress to Higher Education while working. It is also for advisers, including union reps.
It has information and activities, including free e-learning modules, about what to learn, where to learn, studying part-time, getting ready for Higher Education, funding higher learning, support from employers, Foundation degrees, the Open University and lots more.
- Read and download the higher learning at work series.
- Download or order a range of publications to help you in the workplace here.
- There is a range of websites and resources to help find funding, courses, advice and plenty more.
The Guides have been developed to help reps to support learners. There are sections on mentoring, coaching and information and advice skills.
Most of the Sector Skills Councils produce careers information to help individuals to find out what they need to do to progress in their current job or to change direction completely. We have compiled a list of their websites where you can find this information.