Online courses teach an old rep new tricks

Lee Harvey has been refreshing his skills as a Unite CMA rep by starting Union Reps 1 online 10 years after he originally took the classroom version of the course.

Lee Harvey Unite Rep

With 200 cases behind him in one of the biggest branches of Unite CMA at Royal Mail, Lee thought he knew his way around the union rep role. But then a new rep showed him some different approaches to workplace mapping late last year.

Lee says:

I thought, ‘Hold up – I think I’m going to need some re-education here’, so that’s why I’m doing Union Reps 1 online.”

Lee completed the classroom version of the course when he first became active in CMA 10 years ago. But after just a couple of months of online study, he is convinced that taking the new version is paying off.

For one thing, Lee is happier with online learning since being able to work at his own pace suits his dyslexia.

Lee said: Doing courses online, I find it a lot easier to concentrate with my dyslexia and if there’s a word I don’t know or don’t understand, I can go to the dictionary and work that way."

Now relaxed about talking about his dyslexia, Lee didn’t feel that way 10 years ago, when far fewer people understood the condition.

Lee explained:

When I first became a rep, I was quite embarrassed to come out and say I have dyslexia. It was only when I met someone really nice through Unite Education who said ‘Never be afraid of talking about your dyslexia’ that really brought me out of my shell.”

And he hasn’t looked back since enrolling earlier this year.

It’s been a real eye-opener – absolutely fantastic.”

Lee particularly enjoys online networking through the forum with other reps from other unions on the course.

Lee said:

Every hour, I’m getting a ping on my phone or my computer saying someone’s added to the forum and you look at it straight away and see what they’ve put on there: we’re all bouncing ideas off each other, answering each other’s questions and supporting each other – I’m enjoying it 100 per cent.”

Lee is learning new skills from the course content, too, whether that’s on the effectiveness of using floor plans in workplace mapping or the benefits of mapping his own team of reps, which has helped him signpost two reps to Royal Mail’s Springboard women’s development programme.

Lee is now encouraging all his reps to take the online course to refresh their knowledge and skills.

Lee summed up:

I felt that you could never teach an old dog new tricks, but boy was I wrong – what a fantastic course and an excellent refresher.”

Click here to enrol on Union Reps 1 online

This story first appeared in the Summer 2019 Learning Rep – click for more for the full e-magazine.

Unions