This winter unionlearn has been delivering a series of Supporting Learners conferences around the country. Here Kirsi Kekki and Jane Warwick from the unionlearn team reflect on their experiences of the events.
Jane, I know that the main theme of the Supporting Learners events is to showcase all the tools and support unionlearn has to offer to reps but what really stood out for you in this year’s conferences?
Well, that is hard to say. It’s always great to meet so many enthusiastic reps. And I’m always astonished when I hear about all the amazing things they have achieved in engaging learners in the workplace!
So much happened: we launched an eNote, we had ♥unions week, we had the #literacyworks week and the apprentice week and we also talked about the new Trade Union Education offer to reps.
Indeed. The discussions were certainly lively. There was also a really good range of unions and workplaces represented at the events. For instance, in Plymouth Andy Harding, Ivan Judd and Kevin Watts from the POA gave a really interesting and engaging presentation on the work they do in prison service learning centres.
They do some brilliant stuff on maths and English amongst other things.
I agree, Kirsi. Hearing from Tony Norbury and Norman Hunter about Merseylearn’s delivery model was thought provoking: the way they look at local workplace and union issues and entwine them with wider regional learning and skills priorities is a fresh way of looking at things.
Their different reading initiatives raise awareness of literacy skills, such as Moved To Read in partnership with Liverpool City Of Readers which engages staff and external customers.
We have done these events before but there is always something new that needs highlighting, such as the upcoming apprentice levy and its impact on union learning reps’ work.
The discussions in workshops were pretty varied and especially public sector unions were keen to discuss how their workplace will be affected by potentially a big number of apprentices in the future. It is definitely a union issue.
I’m glad you mentioned apprenticeships because during this series of events the new Apprenticeships – know your rights eNote was launched. What was interesting to me was how reps attending the Supporting Mid-Life Development workshops were keen to explore opportunities for older apprentices.
Another discussion topic was who could physically do their current job when they are 65. Or would they want to? That in itself raises a question because if you answer no, it’s really important that you have a Mid-life Development review to explore your opportunities.
It would be good to see everyone at next year’s events and find out how everyone has progressed with their action plans.