Introducing ‘Choices for Change’

Learning and skills are as important as pay and conditions in helping people to do their job well and get on in life. New skills offer greater choice and more control over how and where we work as well as helping to improve job pay and security.

As your trade union, Voice has been involved in giving our members new skills when they step up as workplace representatives, but now we’re going further with our Choices for Change programme. This programme will develop volunteers how can act as a go-between for employers and staff to help broaden members’ skills sets, Union Learning Reps.

Working with employers, local providers and our newly trained Union Learning Reps, Voice can discuss and agree an employee education plan which addresses both short and long-term needs of the employer and the employee; skills directly related to work and broader developmental learning.

Union Learning Reps, or ULRs, are a vital part of Voice’s push to build members’ skills and will help to demonstrate to their colleagues the valuable work we do together.  With free training available to ULRs, alongside a legally protected right to time off work for union business, this is a great new volunteer opportunity that can help broaden your horizons. 

What will ULRs do?

People in work are usually time-poor which leads to them only learning if they are motivated to do so. As a ULR you’ll be acting as a mentor to encourage motivated people to grow their own understanding. Using their existing skills, you will help them to grow new skills by identifying their training needs and skills gaps. 

This role is not about managing conflict or representing people in a dispute, it is about supporting your colleagues and helping them grow as your colleagues will be more likely to confide in you than in your boss about their skill needs.

Working people know that better skills are the passport to a better life. But when managers don’t know what kind of education employees want, then they will either not provide much training, or provide the wrong kind. The role of a Union Learning Rep is therefore crucial in breaching this gap in communication and understanding.

Different workplaces and different ULRs will have different ways of working, but you will typically focus on one or more of the following aims: 

  • working alongside other union professionals, promoting equality in learning; 
  • encouraging a positive attitude towards learning; 
  • encouraging colleagues to take up learning opportunities; 
  • providing advice and guidance on learning; 
  • working with the employer to help colleagues who have difficulty reading, writing or doing maths; and  
  • consulting with employers on paid-time off for training.

As a ULR, Voice will help to develop your skills so you can help your colleagues. We can provide you with skills training to improve your listening, interviewing, negotiating and problem-solving skills to help build your confidence and ability to influence. 

The 2002 Employment Act recognises the role of a ULR as an important part of the workplace and guarantees reasonable, paid time off work and access to resources. So, there’s plenty of support for volunteers stepping into this opportunity, so sign up now:  

Contact John Fulham by email for further help and advice.

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