Research paper 14 - Learning Journeys - trade union learners in their own words

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This report explores, in the words of the learners themselves, the extent to which union learning facilitates equality and diversity in access to learning and precipitates further personal development, job progression and/or employability for learners. It finds that union learning provides a second chance for workers who have had negative experiences of compulsory education, addressing what they feel is an educational deficit and who may subsequently become 'serial learners'.

The report concludes that significant barriers continue to exist, such as cost and a lack of confidence amongst learners, but also employer reluctance and work intensification leading to demands on time and energy. However, in its application of adult education pedagogy, union learning attracts learners, with the role of union learning representatives (ULRs) key to overcoming barriers. At the workplace, learning can promote social and collective interaction and be a source of well-being. What is more, the learners speaking here value learning highly, whether it is for work or personal development, be it formal or informal, lifelong or drawn from wider life experience - 'lifewide'. Whilst learning is central to their own self esteem, at the same time they often express a broader commitment to the wider social purpose of education.