UNISON Bridges to Learning mentioned in House of Lords Debate on Adult Learning

29 January 2016

It was great to hear Lord Shipley praise UNISON Bridges to Learning today in the House of Lords and to outline the widening participation in work-based learning through the peer support provided by UNISON union learning representatives in the workplace. Lord Shipley commended Bridges to Learning on our achievements over the last 15 years, particularly since it has helped many low-paid workers back into learning and on to personal progression routes into further and higher education. In his statement he said:

"My Lords, ..... I shall say a word or two about union-based learning. I was involved in setting up a pilot project some years ago called Bridges to Learning. It was an Open University national partnership with the Workers’ Educational Association and Unison. This partnership is still going strong. It now receives funding from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and provides a strong focus on widening participation in work-based learning through the peer support provided by union learning representatives in the workplace. It is to be commended on its achievements over the last 15 years, since it has helped many low-paid workers back into learning and on to personal progression routes into further and higher education.
One important strand of this funded work has been the delivery of functional skills through numeracy and literacy workshops in local NHS trusts to enable employees to acquire entry qualifications for pre-registration nursing. Building on this regional success and in partnership with the Open University, the WEA nationally has recently developed a healthcare contextualised maths programme at QCA level 2, accredited by City and Guilds, which meets the numeracy entry requirement to nursing. It is delivered in the workplace through a 15-week course taught by the WEA and is organised and promoted by UNISON and its union learning representatives, who are seconded to work with Bridges to Learning. It is clear evidence of the value of partnership working which adds value; the sum is greater than the parts. It understands also that building confidence ..... matters, of individuals who might otherwise not engage with education at all. Those who want to study but who are uncertain need the confidence and support given by a face-to-face adviser, not just a telephone link."

Anne Hansen, Director of UNISON Bridges to Learning thanks Lord Shipley for acknowledging the role of UNISON, our core partners, WEA and The Open University, and the wider union movement in enabling workers achieve their potential in the workplace.

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