Learning in the Workplace is fundamentally important for long-term succession


Learning and development in any business or organisation is a key element when looking to attract good quality employees. It is also key to the retention of existing employees. With the labour market becoming ever more competitive, being able to attract and retain quality employees is important. For any organisation, public or private, putting in place robust learning and development plans more than help. It can be the difference in seeing improved morale, efficiency and profits.

There is no denying, public services do not and cannot invest in their staff like they did in past decades and this is due to budget cuts, privatisation and changes in service demand and priority. The damage this causes organisations is colossal. It impacts on employee motivation, absenteeism, recruitment and retention which, in the public sector means local governments, police, fire and ambulance services are grinding to a halt.

You may be asking – what does that have to do with the public, the communities in which these organisations work? Well, quite a lot. Without the officers and staff to fulfil roles impacts on key services that are there to help, support and protect the public.

An organisations ability to learn, and to translate that learning into action rapdily is the ultimate competative advantge.   –  Jack Welch (former) CEO, General Electric

In Grimsby this week, I was fortunate to attend the signing of the first learning agreement between Unite the Union and North East Lincolnshire Council. The event was well attended and the buzz for it was amazing. Trade unions have always bargained over pay and protection but since the start of the union learning renaissance in the 1990s trade unions have also negotiated learning agreements with employers.

So, what is a learning agreement?

A learning agreement in the simplest term is a collective agreement between one or more recognised trade union (s) and an employer, which is specific on how the parties will work with each other on learning issues. They can be developed and reached at a local or national level or even within a department. Research carried out for unionlearn by the University of Leeds revealed that, where a learning agreement has been signed, it is far more likely that:

  • Union learning reps have facility time to undertake their role.
  • A joint management–union learning committee is operating at the workplace.
  • There is equality of access to training opportunities.
  • Skills gaps in the workforce are being addressed.
  • Management negotiate and/or consult with unions about training provision.

The findings from the research suggest that learning agreements can be a positive force for moving to a workplace with a learning culture. In addition, they support the aims of trade unions which are equal opportunities, job security, expansion of activism and aiding the scope for collective bargaining. These are all well served from the impacts of learning agreements.

Unite the Union and Learn with Unite offer a range of courses from short courses in a range of topics to fully-funded level 1 and 2 courses. These courses are fully-funded and are free to Unite and non-unite members. They can be studied in the learners own time, at home and where there is an agreement, can learn whilst at work.

What courses are on offer?

Have a look at the link here, you will find all the course titles, what they cover, length and mode of study and how you ti enrol.

It is clear that a learning agreement with the trade union advances further support to the learning and development of an organisation. In addition, with the help of Unite the Union, learning and development opportunities are being given which as well as helping an individual, helps and supports the organisation and employer too, meaning key strategic aims and objectives are met whilst maintaining an engaged, motivated and educated workforce.

About the author

Ben Munro
Ben Munro

I’m a serving public servant working full-time. I’m also a trade union activist and student.

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Ben Munro By Ben Munro

Ben Munro

Ben Munro

I’m a serving public servant working full-time. I’m also a trade union activist and student.

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