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Union Learning Fund

Volume 470: debated on Thursday 24 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what steps his Department has taken to implement the recommendations of the evaluation of the Union Learning Fund, 2001 to 2005, undertaken on behalf of the former Department for Education and Skills by York Consulting Ltd. (178576)

The main recommendations of the evaluation of the Union Learning Fund (2001-05) concern improving the level of management information provided by participating trade unions, particularly on learner referrals and outcomes; improving the level of support provided to help Union Learning Representatives (ULRs); and engaging strategically with employers to help ensure the long term sustainability of union learning activity initiated by the Union Learning Fund (ULF).

Officials from my Department have been working with unionlearn the TUC’s new learning organisation to address these issues. Work has been done to improve the management information systems of ULF projects which will capture more information on the numbers taking Skills for Life, Level 2 and Level 3 courses. Additional support systems have been put in place at national, regional and local level to help Union Learning Representatives to carry out their duties more effectively. A new electronic tool, the “Climbing Frame” has been developed which is designed to help ULRs support learners to progress through different levels of study and a new “Quality Award” for learning providers that helps ULRs to identify accessible high quality provision for learners.

These strengthened support systems for ULRs will help to secure the future sustainability of union learning initiatives and underpin the work that unionlearn is doing to help those trade unions involved in ULF to develop effective strategic partnership working with employers. Over 200 learning agreements were established last year between unions and employers involved in ULF, helping to embed successful projects into long-term planning.