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Union Learning Representatives

Volume 410: debated on Friday 19 September 2003

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:To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent discussions she has had with trade union representatives on the development of union learning representatives. [130578]

:I have been asked to reply.Union Learning Representatives are a key component of the Government's new Skills Strategy. In developing the strategy we consulted widely and met with trade union representatives on a number of occasions to discuss the vital role that unions and their learning representatives have to play. The TUC is, of course, a key member of the Skills Alliance which will bring together Government, employers and trade unions to oversee the future development and delivery of the Skills Strategy.Union Learning Representatives have already proved to be highly effective in helping to encourage workers to improve their skills, particularly workers with low skills and those with literacy and numeracy problems—the very people who so often miss out on learning opportunities. That is why we introduced legislation to give them statutory backing and rights to time off with pay which came into effect at the end of April 2003. This will help to reinforce the invaluable role that Union Learning Representatives are currently playing in the workplace to promote workforce development and open up new training opportunities for their colleagues.There are currently around 6,500 Union Learning Representatives. The new statutory rights will help their numbers to grow and we look forward to seeing a national network of over 22,000 trained Union Learning Representatives in place by 2010, helping over 250,000 workers a year into learning.