Michelle is awarded for Supporting Older Workers

At the unionlearn Annual Conference this July Usdaw Union Learning Rep Michelle Whitley won the ULR award for Supporting Older Workers.

Michelle Whitley
Michelle Whitley receiving her Award from Gordon Marsden MP and TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady ©Jess Hurd

Two years after walking into the union Learning Centre as a worker at the Argos Contact Centre in Widnes, Michelle decided to become a ULR. From there she is now the Learning Centre Coordinator, promoting workplace learning and in particular using the role to supporting older workers, along with Dyslexia.

As a ULR Michelle works with the company to help support staff who has been identified as potentially having Dyslexia, working with the management and the team leaders to identify when undiagnosed Dyslexia might have played a part in poor performance and negotiating support, such a screening service and coloured computer monitors to aid people.

Michelle's work supporting older workers started last year when she got involved with the unionlearn mid-life skills review project. This involved carrying out surveys in her workplace to help staff reassess their career options and look at the areas of their skill sets that they needed to develop.

Michelle said:

There are a lot of people who work here who are older workers, who would love to move around the business, they would love to do an apprenticeship.

We work with the business for the apprenticeships on the functional skills, so we encourage people who haven’t been in any education for a long time to not be quite so scared of it and to make that step. We guide them through that whole process through to when they get their qualification.

Andrea Cookson is a Team Leader at the Argos Centre and said:

When I needed to develop my Team Leader role I came to Michelle for support and guidance and she sat with me and helped me chose the right learning qualification that suited me best.

Unionlearn Director Kevin Rowan added:

I would like to congratulate Michelle on winning this award. Her work supporting older workers as an Usdaw Union Learning Rep at Argos shows that, with the right support, there is no age barrier to learning.