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Union learning reps training course takes place in Sheffield

18th December 2019

Union learning reps training course participants

Back row: Alan Kirkpatrick, Paul Atkin, Nathan Crossland, Claire Baronowski, Callie Heathcote, Dave Allday. Front row: John Leaning, Iram Fareen, Hannah Smith.

The first Union Learning Reps training course run from Community’s Sheffield office was recently delivered by The Manchester College.

Eight Union Learning Reps (ULRs) attended the course and came from several different workplaces, include Liberty Steel, XPO Barnsley and Community itself.

ULRs form an integral part of the union’s rep network and are key to ensuring workplace learning is something that can be made available to all Community’s members in all our workplaces.

Sidra Nisa, National Organiser for Community Learn, said:

“It goes without saying that reps do a fantastic job and are key to ensuring our members are treated fairly at work.

“Fair treatment in the workplace, or more-so unfair treatment in the workplace can undoubtedly mean the valuable skills and talents many of our members possess will go un-noticed and leave them at a disadvantage when, for example, job opportunities come along. Scenarios like these are exactly why we need ULRs in the workplace.”

The ULR stage 1 course covered crucial areas for new reps:

  • The ULR role and function – what are roles and functions?
  • How to promote learning opportunities within the workplace – finding out what members want and/or need in order to put the right courses on.
  • Union structures and how to develop a robust learning agreement – on this point, the importance of being able to work with management.
  • Identifying issues on learning – to include how to address barriers some will have to learning
  • Mapping the workplace with reference to learning and equality of learning opportunities.

Sidra said:

“To doubt ourselves is normal. Many people who attend reps’ courses for the first time will naturally feel nervous. This was the feeling from some of the reps on day one of the course, though by the end of the first day confidence was visibly building as negative thoughts were turned into positive ones.”

At the end of the week, many of the reps attending said that they felt they would be able to use want they had learnt back in their workplaces.

“This course has helped me see how to overcome the barriers of a ULR and I will now be able to take this into my workplace,” said Alan Kirkpatrick from British Steel.

While Paul Atkin, a rep from XPO Barnsley, said: “It has been good to be able to listen to input and ideas from everyone. This will help my role at work.”

“The tutor and the staff at Community were great! I have learnt about the ULR role and will use this in my work,” said Iram Fareen from Ship-Shape.

And John Leaning commented on how it was useful to meet reps from different sectors of the union and get a better understanding of their common interests.

Community is actively promoting the value of ULRs and encouraging anybody to take up the role. The Union Learning Reps training stage one course becomes available once a member becomes a ULR.