DHL Stoke - Unionlearn provides key support to "remarkable" union-led learning project

Earlier this year, DHL and shopworkers' union USDAW gained recognition for their joint efforts in promoting lifelong learning at the logistic company's Stoke on Trent site in the West Midlands, winning a Learning for Work Project Regional Award during Adult Learners' Week. The annual awards celebrate the achievements of adults who, through learning, have transformed their own lives and the lives of their families, the communities they live in and the places they work. They are presented to the most remarkable individuals, tutors, projects and employers.

USDAW and DHL won the award for their joint work delivering affordable and accessible learning opportunities to over 80 members of staff at the Stoke warehouse and distribution depot in 2012/13 alone. The site is run by DHL and delivers exclusively to Sainsbury's.

John Goodwin, USDAW Union Learning Coordinator, and his team of union learning representatives (ULRs) initially pushed for staff to have the opportunity to develop their functional skills – Maths and English along with IT. Managers agreed that having highly-trained, focused individuals who have good Basic English and Maths who can understand and follow complex procedures as well as good transferable skills is of benefit to the business as well as the staff themselves.

And when DHL, with support from USDAW with Union Learning Fund (ULF) funding, opened a learning centre, there was an opportunity to start Apprenticeships in logistics and warehousing. More than 50 apprentices have since been taken on in Business Administration, Warehousing and Storage, Waste Management and Security.

Julia Baldwin, USDAW Lifelong Learning Project Worker, said:

"The Lifelong Learning agenda at DHL Stoke continues to grow from strength to strength delivering both a mixture of vocational and personal development courses onsite. Unionlearn has been key to supporting the agenda through direct support from its Union Support Officer Paul Humphreys. It is regularly represented at Steering Group meetings and helps develop the overall Lifelong Learning agenda by ensuring the site continues to be engaged in new and future activities such as the unionlearn Quality Award and The Climbing Frame."

John left school with few qualifications, but since starting work with DHL and learning that trade unions could help him with his learning, his enthusiasm for learning has seen him attain Maths and English Level 2 and a number of NVQs. He makes sure that the whole workforce, agency workers as well as the permanent workforce are aware of the learning opportunities on offer. The site runs a three-shift system and employs agency workers during busy times. Each induction day, including the induction for agency workers, is attended by USDAW representatives who explain to all those starting work at DHL the benefits of learning and the offer within the learning centre.

"Unionlearn has played an integral part to the success of our on-site Learning Centre. Paul Humphreys supports me in my role by always ensuring we can be as active as we can be. We regularly communicate with unionlearn, offering to help deliver new initiatives that will help our colleagues on-site and use the advice and support given to us to widen our learning agenda."