Working with employers

Promoting learning to working people has been at the heart of the trade union movement from its early pioneering days.

Today, through the work of union learning reps and education officers, learning is increasingly a core part of what we do. Vitally, it is becoming part and parcel of the deal that union negotiators can offer to their members.

Union Learning Reps (ULRs) act as evangelists for learning and training among their colleagues and workmates. Research from London Metropolitan University shows that union learning is a useful tool for attracting new members, reinforcing union identity and can lead to wider democratic engagement and participation. However, it is the job of all reps to negotiate with their employers to improve the acquisition of skills for their members.

Higher skills and training mean improved productivity and job performance, better morale and a workforce that can adapt to new work processes. This is good news for the employers; and it leads to increased job security for union members.

It is the job of reps to ensure access to training opportunities is available for all – shift workers, BME communities and older workers who too often lose out – and that fair reward is given for skills acquired.

Workplace learning agreements are one of the best ways to establish equitable training policies and practice.

Bargaining for skills is a vital element of any successful learning agreement negotiation and should be a primary consideration for ULRs when negotiation learning agreements.

In this section, you will find information on how to incorporate skills into a formal part of the bargaining process ensuring fair access to skills training for all trade union members.