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Date: 21 May 2004

Successful union initiative brings workers back to learning

Today, UNISON, the public service union, is celebrating the success of thousands of members who have successfully undertaken training for the first time since leaving school.

The Scottish Minister with responsibility for Lifelong Learning, Lewis Macdonald MSP, addressed the union's Celebrating Learning event in Aberdeen. The UNISON project, Establishing a Culture of Learning assisted by funding from the Scottish Union Learning Fund, ran for a year from April 2003.

In that time UNISONScotland, in partnership with the Workers Educational Association (WEA), trained 220 members as Lifelong learning advisers. The union's adviser network now stretches from Shetland to Stranraer and continues to grow. Lifelong learning advisers encourage and support members back into learning in every local authority and NHS employer in Scotland as well as many from the voluntary sector, higher education, police, energy and water services. They deliver a wide range of courses through the UNISON Learning @ Work programme.

Matt Smith, UNISON's Scottish Secretary said "Our Lifelong Learning Adviser network enables members to overcome the inequality that exists in workplace training and encourages new activists for UNISON. Many thousands of UNISON members are low paid, part time workers who have traditionally been excluded from workplace training. Advice, guidance and support from this new stream of UNISON activists will help to address this and allow all employees to fulfil their potential, in the workplace, at home or in the wider community."

Lewis Macdonald MSP, Depute Minister for Enterprise and Lifelong Learning, said "I congratulate UNISON on the effort it has made to promote learning for its members. It has made a real contribution, not least in its work in the NHS in Scotland. The learning that it promotes in this way has a triple benefit; a benefit to the employer like the NHS, a benefit to the union and individual union members and a benefit to patients and others who are assisted by the services they deliver. I am very encouraged by the different ways in which the Scottish Union Learning Fund is helping unions to promote learning. I want to see more union learning projects succeed and so we have now published the prospectus for the next round of SULF and will invest £600k in this over the next two years. '


[Note to Editors: In this project UNISON/WEA have trained 220 LLA's across Scotland (130 of whom were not active in the union before) 70% of these have been Women. 62% earn less than £14,000 per year. 45 Branches now have LLA's in their branch. Direct contact has been made with around 28,000 members across Scotland]

For Further Information Please Contact: Matt Smith (Scottish Secretary) - 07771 548 997(m) Glyn Hawker (Scottish Organiser) - 07876 441 237(m) Anne Cascarino Regional Officer (Education) 07715 050028(m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0845 355 0845(w) 0771 558 3729(m)




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