The SoR is joining with other TUC affiliates and business leaders to challenge the Government’s decision to end the Union Learning Fund (ULF) from March 2021.
The ULF was established in 1998 to encourage unions and businesses to work in partnership to promote and support education and training. Hundreds of thousands of workers have benefited from upskilling or retraining from projects backed by the scheme.
Dean Rogers, the SoR Director of Industrial Strategy and Member Relations said: ‘This proposal has come out of the blue. There was no consultation with unions or employers and it is totally devoid of reason. This proposal is a case study in false economy and economic self-harming.
‘To cancel the funding now – when we are on the edge of a recession and the Chancellor himself is telling people to think about re-training, is remarkably strange. Business and unions are also working more closely together than ever in the current crisis so removing a fund that supports partnership working also makes no sense. No serious employer group has called for this.’
The ULF is managed and administered by unionlearn, the TUC’s Learning and Skills Organisation under an agreement with the Department for Education which directs the level and type of learning activity that should be supported by the fund.
Union Learning Representatives (ULRs) across the country have been supported by the fund, working in partnership with employers to help reach the sceptical or harder to engage workers.
The SoR has 230 ULRs who have benefited from the fund. As well as promoting a learning culture, they support critical recruitment and retention efforts, for example by helping to identify the pressures on employees, promoting well-being training and mentoring.
The representatives are increasingly important to local social partnership working, helping overworked managers identify professional development needs, trends and training.
Dean added: ‘It is really hard not to be cynical about motive but cynicism is dangerous and I’d always prefer to just be sceptical. We are urging all ULRs and their managers to write to both their MP and Chancellor Rishi Sunak, simply saying what they achieve as a result of this funding, so that sense can prevail’.