Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Opportunities for learning at work enhanced through new Unionlearn and National Extension College agreement


Yesterday NEC attended the annual Unionlearn conference at Congress House in London. Entitled “Britain needs a skills rise”, the conference focussed on the development of skills through the learning of individuals and communities to meet the needs of a modern workforce.

Unionlearn board chair Dr Mary Bousted and NEC Chief Executive Ros Morpeth signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) at the conference that will make it easier for union members and Union Learning Reps to improve their skills for work through online and distance learning.

The agreement opens up new learning opportunities to more than six million trade union members in the UK by giving them a 10% discount on all NEC courses.

Unionlearn is the TUC’s learning and skills organisation. NEC is the UK’s only not-for-profit provider of skills-based and vocational subjects. The MOU formalises a working relationship between the two organisations that began in the 1970s. Unionlearn and the NEC share a commitment to providing union members with access to high-quality tuition and study materials to support their continuing vocational, professional and personal development. Every year, nearly a quarter of a million workers engage in learning and training through their union.

As a result of the agreement, members of trades unions will be able to fill gaps in their academic qualifications by enrolling on NEC’s GCSE, IGCSE and A level courses, including maths and English. They will also be able to upgrade their workplace skills through NEC’s level 3 and level 5 Certificate and Diploma courses, which lead to Chartered Management Institute management qualifications. From September, NEC will be offering the Award in Adult Education and Training level 3 course for people with responsibility for delivering training in the workplace or at a college, or who are preparing to work as trainers. Union members will be able to find out more about what’s on offer from NEC through 400 workplace union learning centres across the UK.

Unionlearn board chair Dr Mary Bousted said: ‘The signs of an economic recovery have not put paid to the skills gap. Around one in five vacancies is still going unfilled because of a lack of jobseekers with the right skills and experience. Access to quality training opportunities for people who are in work is as important as ever. An employer survey published by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills earlier this year showed that more workers are receiving training compared to two years ago, but a third of employers are neglecting to train their staff. The flexible provision offered by providers like NEC makes it easier than ever for businesses to fit the development of employees into the workplace.’

NEC Chief Executive Ros Morpeth said: ‘NEC’s agreement to work more closely with Unionlearn recognises our joint commitment to give more opportunities to learn to people who missed out first time around. Through Unionlearn, we look forward to welcoming new learners to our UK-wide community of adults and young people determined to have a second chance to improve their skills and qualifications.’

An example of the difference these second chances for learning can make to someone’s life can be found in Bill Haywood, whose amazing journey from shop floor to doctorate began in 1972 when the TUC signed him up for a social studies course with NEC. Now retired and living in Cyprus, Bill has written a book entitled ‘On Life’s Little Twists and Turns’ about his life and experiences. His story has featured previously on our blog, which you can read here.

To find out more about NEC and the wide range of flexible distance learning courses we offer, visit our website or get in touch and speak to our team. You can keep up to date with all the latest NEC news and events by subscribing to our email newsletter or following our blog. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

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