Educational Opportunities For Members

Skills For Life

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Based on our survey completed by 27,000 UNISON members we know that most people would like to improve their skills and confidence in some area of English, maths and ICT.

We have developed courses to meet the needs of members, these include Dealing with Paperwork, Money Matters, Making the Most of the Internet, Your Skills, Your Future and more.

We also promote functional maths and English which are short courses leading to qualifications at level 2 which is equivalent to GCSE A-C.

UNISON has a network of learning representatives across the union, they can offer guidance and signpost you to local courses UNISON may be running.

Union learning reps support and encourage members into learning that is appropriate for them.

You can also find out information on maths and English courses by contacting your local college or adult education centre. They can assess your skills and support you into the appropriate level course for you.

For more information on UNISON courses available in your region, contact your branch or regional education team by calling UNISONdirect on 0800 0857 857.

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10 Things You Need To Know About Unison And Learning


Why is learning an issue for Unison? Many Unison members especially part-time and low paid workers – have real difficulty in accessing training at work. Achieving equality  in the workplace is central to what UNISON is all about. ensuring that everyone gets access to the training they need is a crucial means of tackling inequality.


Is it all about work-related courses? No. UNISON does offer a range of vocational training, but we think that learning is about much more than what you need to do your job. Learning helps develop confidence, skills and knowledge that can help you at home, in the community – and at work.


What sort of courses does Unison run for members? Unison’s Learning and Organising Services runs a wide range of courses – including Return to Learn, Communications Skills and Women’s Lives – which are aimed at people who have not had access to training and want to develop their writing, numeracy, research and communication skills. UNISON also runs a range of short courses to help union members who are interested in becoming more active in the union, for example as union learning reps, health and safety reps or as stewards.


Who can I talk to in confidence about training? Union learning reps have legal rights to time off to help support learning in the workplace and negotiate time off for learning. UNISON has a network of over 2500 union learning reps working in branches – and that number is growing all the time. They are trained to point learners in the direction of whatever courses – from a range of providers – that are appropriate to their needs.


What about learning in works time? UNISON encourages branches to negotiate learning agreements with employers which spell out how the employer will support training and learning – including time off or protected time at work for learning. Union learning reps can help negotiate with line managers to ensure all staff can get what they’re entitled to.


What sort of qualifications could I get? Many UNISON courses offer accreditation via the Open College Network – their credits are equivalent to GCSE’s, A Levels and higher education. UNISON has links to a range of vocational qualifications and offers discounts on other courses.


What will it cost? There is no cost for most courses. UNISON Learning and Organising Services also negotiates discounts for many vocational training courses.


What about IT training – do I have to need it for my work to qualify? UNISON offers IT training via Careconnect Learning and as part of each regional education programme. Courses can be accessed via distance learning, in a learning centre or on a face-to-face course with other union members. Access to a computer either at work or at home often isn’t necessary.


What are Unison courses like? The emphasis on a union course is on working together with other union members and learning from one another. There are no exams, lots of different methods to keep it interesting and work in small groups. Courses usually focus on developing skills and confidence by trying things out and learning by doing.


Do you want to get involved? If you are interested in beoming more involved and want to find out more there are lots of sources of information and people you can talk to. If you would like to know more about courses available through Learning and Organising Services contact them on 0800 0857 857.

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We helped Leila get on at work

Leila is a Unison member. She’s been a home care assistant for some time. She wanted to move on but didn’t have the qualifications she needed. Through an initiative that UNISON negotiated with her employer, she was able to attend courses in works time and is now looking forward to a career as a social worker – all without having to give up her job.

We helped Jackie get more from her job

Jackie is a UNISON member. She started helping in the classroom as a teaching assistant when her own children went to school. She enjoyed her work and wanted to do more but didn’t have any formal qualifications. With help from her UNISON learning representative she was able to attend a course for people who have been out of education. She gained the confidence to go on and become a qualified teaching assistant.


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