Mark Dickens works at Fox’s Biscuits in Batley as a Technician, where he is also the BFAWU (Bakers food & allied workers union) Branch Secretary. As a branch officer Mark is keen to promote the union’s learning offer – and he has also been quick to take up the opportunity to build his own skills.
There are over 400 members on the Batley site, with Mark covering the Wakefield distribution Centre as well. Being Branch Secretary can be challenging with everything from representing colleagues, negotiating terms and conditions, championing and improving health, safety and wellbeing on site.
However Mark realises the importance of education and how it helps with increased confidence, knowledge and development (both personal and professional), and he has been greatly involved with taking advantage of the learning oppertunities on offer by the BFAWU Learning Services.
Recently Mark successfully completed the Level 2 Functional Skills English Course, a course he was instrumental in promoting and organising locally. This has proved popular and so far 17 of his colleagues completed the English course on site.
Mark has also attended a recent Mental Health Awareness Course which was held in Northern College in Barnsley. He found the training to be very useful and on the back of that helped set up two Mental Health Courses at his work place.
Both of these sessions were very well attended by both shop floor workers and management. The attendees really enjoyed the Mental Health Awareness Course, with some having progressed to enrol on the Level 2 Mental Health course - a distance learning course run via Chesterfield College.
Mark said on the mental health awareness and functional skills English: “The course gave me a better understanding of the issues people have working in a factory environment and also gave me more confidence to converse and negotiate with management and also to better communicate with the members”.
With the support of BFAWU Learning Services lots of learning opportunities are now accessible to adults in work, especially for those who have little to no formal qualifications, something that Mark is keen to take advantage of.
We are looking to continue with the learning journey on site. I am planning to organise a roadshow for after conference then start enrolments for the next round of English courses”.
BFAWU Project Work Kamran Ali added:
The employer (Fox’s Biscuits Batley) has been really supportive, and actively encourages colleagues to take advantage of the learning that’s on offer even though most of the learning is for personal development.”