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The Role Of The ULR

The Role Of The ULR

Tue 8th Apr 2014

It's probably fair to say that for a lot of people, the jury has been out on just how effective the Union learning rep is. Traditionally, the "bargaining agenda" in workplaces has been the sole domain of the workplace rep. The ULR however can and does play a very effective role in supporting the negotiation process.

We are constantly reminded by government and business alike of the need to build and develop skills of the workforce, as was the case with the previous government initiative of the Skills Pledge.

Union Learning Representatives (ULRs) have long been recognised as playing a crucial role in delivering learning in the workplace. It is through ULRs that unions are able to reach people who may otherwise not have the opportunity to access personal or professional development qualifications.

There are many examples of ULR's being instrumental in setting up and developing learning centres in partnership with employers. Workers who had been let down by an education system and who may have skills for life issues, could approach their ULR as someone who being a workplace colleague, they felt they could confide in, and advise and signpost them to places / courses where their issues could be addressed.

However it's not just skills for life issues that the ULR deals with, but more often workers now seek personal development, that could lead to promotional opportunities in an ever changing working environment. 

At a time when apprenticeships seem to be making a comeback and rightly so, the ULR can have a key role to play in ensuring they raise awareness of employers of the need to embrace the development and training of young and mature apprentices, it makes good business sense.

The GMB in the North West and Irish region along with the GMB Reachout project managed by union members from St Antony's centre based in Trafford Park are committed in the lifelong learning agenda.

Alfie Jones and Ken Lowe

Regional Education officers