Working with unionlearn to bring skills to all

Graham explains why NOCN is keen to work with the TUC and unionlearn to support workplace learning.


I am the Group Managing Director of an educational charity called NOCN. Established 30 years, it is now one of the larger national Awarding Organisations for vocational and technical qualifications. NOCN is also a major End-point Assessment Organisation for the new reformed apprenticeships.

Our relationship with the TUC and Unionlearn is well established, for many years we have supported them to qualify representatives in a wide range of topics, such as being a Trade Union Representative, employment law, equalities, and health and safety. We have also run pilot courses for Union Representatives on the management of productivity. In addition, the TUC has a place on our Board and we considerably benefit from their insight, ideas and support.

As someone who has been a Union Rep and officer, as well as a senior manager, I believe skills and learning are essential for us all. We face enormous challenges to our economy and places of work, not just BREXIT, but the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Revolution and the 30% gap in UK productivity.

For this reason, NOCN is working with the Learning and Work Institute to publish at the Labour Party conference a report on our ideas concerning the National Skills Strategy which the Government should adopt to face the challenges of low skills, low productivity and low pay against the background of the AI revolution.

Our ideas build upon the education and skills reforms to date and the joint initiative which the TUC has launched with the Government and the CBI for the National Retraining Scheme.

If we are going to face what is arguably the biggest skills challenge of a lifetime, the Unions have an essential part to play in improving national productivity. This means that Union Representatives need to be prepared to respond with the necessary skills for this new world of work.

For example, we can see an increasing need for more training for Trade Union representatives on productivity and the implications of AI for workers.

As they say, knowledge is power. Together, we are better placed to face the challenges coming our way from a strong position if we learn new skills and studying a qualification can provide the framework for that. This way, challenges can become opportunities: to improve pay, conditions, and prospects, rather than threats to employment, redundancy or pay cuts.

BREXIT, AI and low productivity may seem abstract or distant but this ‘triple whammy’ will have an impact whether we like it or not. It is up to us how we plan and respond.

In all of this, NOCN is be delighted to continue to support the TUC and union learners to face the challenges ahead, for we can create a fair and equitable society for all together.

Profile picture for user Graham Hasting-Evans

Graham Hasting-Evans

Graham Hasting-Evans is Managing Director of NOCN. He started work in the construction industry and then moved into workforce development and training.

Graham headed the employment and skills programme for the London Olympics before moving to UKCES and then NOCN.