Linking London and unionlearn – a 10 years partnership supporting the capitals learners

Linking London is a unique established partnership of London higher education institutions, colleges and other members including City and Guilds, London Councils Education and Skills Team, OCN London, Pearson and of course unionlearn.

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We have been in existence since 2006. The core aims of our partnership are to support recruitment, retention and progression through higher education, in all its variety, including full and part time, higher & degree apprenticeships and work-based learning.  

The central team are based at Birkbeck, University of London. Through Linking London membership partners work both collaboratively, and individually, to maximise their contribution to targeted widening participation, student engagement and success, social mobility and in pursuit of improvements in social justice through education. We work with a range of national and regional bodies on behalf of our partners, and respond to consultations from government and other agencies. We have increasingly proved to be a powerful advocate for our partners, lobbying on their behalf, and on behalf of learners of all ages, to ensure a seamless transition in their educational journey.

Over the past ten years we have worked closely with unionlearn and greatly value their contribution in the context of working with adults in the workplace who are considering embarking on higher level learning, including part time, work based learning and higher and degree apprenticeships. In the arena of higher education too often the focus is on younger learners progressing on to full time higher education at the expense of older learners. We continue to emphasise the six million potential learners in work and already qualified to level three who may be interested in flexible higher level progression. The potential benefits of higher level learning for those who are in work, not only for the individual but for the employer and the economy as a whole, are often overlooked in government circles.

Representatives from unionlearn regularly attend and contribute to a range of Linking London staff development events and practitioner group meetings, which include as their focus information advice and guidance, the London labour market and higher and degree apprenticeship developments, to highlight the important role unionlearn plays in supporting learning and skills development across the capital and share good practice, including resources. Linking London have contributed to staff development events for unionlearn reps and share information and news via our newsletters with key contacts at unionlearn, as well as a range of resources aimed at staff, including unionlearn reps. These include our adviser guide, labour market intelligence reports and the ever popular routes into HE postcard and card game, co-designed with unionlearn.

With increasing concern about the negative impact of skills shortages in the economy, declining numbers of adults progressing on to higher level learning and the ongoing growth, particularly in London, of technical and professional occupations, as well as the development of higher and degree apprenticeships and the need to create more apprenticeship places,  there has never been a more important time to work together to help upskill London Learners. We look forward to continuing to work with unionlearn to help address these issues in the future. 

To find out more about the work of Linking London you can visit or email Andrew Jones at [email protected]


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Andrew Jones

Andrew Jones is Deputy Director and IAG Specialist with Linking London. Andrew has a great deal of experience of both supporting vocational learners into higher education and of identifying the barriers these learners need to overcome.

Linking London is 10 years old, and here Andrew talks about the partnership and how it supports learners across the capital.