Getting lifelong learning up and running in a new workplace is always a difficult job. Take the example of the Tesco store in Wath-upon-Dearne.
Situated on the outskirts of a small village between Barnsley and Sheffield with staff drawn mainly from local village areas, the store had no history of lifelong learning until Janine Bowler took on the Usdaw Union Learning Rep (ULR) role.
Heather Challis, who is the Usdaw Moblie Union Learning Rep for West Yorkshire, said:
Janine is a very active rep in various roles, but she is new to the ULR role and only recently competing her training. But she came back determined to introduce learning to the store”.
I thought the best way to get started was to run a Check Out learning day.”
I spoke to my store manager and he was very enthusiastic. He thought that introducing learning might create better morale in the store. I negotiated to be released for the day and to allow staff to have time off their job to enable them to take part”.
Working together Heather and Janine planned the event, as Heather explained:.
We agreed to run the event on a busy day with plenty of staff in the store and decided to focus on digital skills.”
Tesco is introducing on line pay-slips, so this would be an ideal opportunity to help staff who were not able or confident enough to access them. We wanted to do a bit of learning on the day but also planned to survey staff to find out their interests, so we could then organise courses on the back of this”.
The day itself was quite successful, and Janine said:
We spoke to nearly 30 people, completed surveys and gave advice on how to access courses. Not many people wanted to know more about getting on line with their pay slips but there were lots of questions about improving digital skills so it’s something we will come back to.”
Some people wanted to know more about math’s, so we used Usdaw’s “bite size math “questions to create a lot of fun around who knew what about math’s. We also signed 3 people up to an FE distance learning course and recruited 2 new members”.
It was a good start and we learned a lot. Next time we will promote the day earlier and give all store reps an invite to attend. I am also training Janine on Usdaw’s ilearn system, so she can record learners at the store.”
The day also highlighted a potentially important initiative which could link learning into the store infrastructure.
A Tesco Manager from the store said he was looking forward to be able to learn more about the principles of dementia care as he has had some personal experience of dealing with the issues it raises.”
Dementia is a big part of what Tesco community champions are becoming more actively involved so it would be a good issue to organise learning around.”
Heather added that:
The first step would be to introduce a Dementia Champion into the store, so we can hold Dementia friend days.”
This will encourage more staff members to take part and sign up to the FE distance learning courses that are available. I have a plan in place to meet the community champion and discus dementia friend days. The charity coordinator could possibly be more involved to help steer this using their experience as well”.
Divisional Project Worker Martyn Warwick is really pleased with the progress at the store and said:
It’s a textbook example of how to get learning started in a retail store. Recruit an enthusiastic ULR, get management on side, use the skills of an experienced MULR, organise a promotion, get some learning in place, evaluate the day and identify how you can best move forward. A good foundation has been put in place.”