Cornwall unions tackle skills shortages
The South West TUC is setting up a unique Union Learning Centre in Cornwall aimed at tackling skills shortages in the county by helping 1,000 people back into education and training.
The three-year, £370,000 project, to be based at Cornwall College, will receive almost £164,000 through Cornwall’s Objective One European funding programme. It will build on the South West TUC’s existing Union Learning Services programme but will be more focused on Cornwall’s specific needs.
The other partners in the project are the Employment Service and the Learning and Skills Council Devon and Cornwall.
Project co-ordinator Geoff Hale said: “The project’s aim is to promote learning and training to employees in Cornwall because one of the best ways to improve a person’s pay and conditions is to help them acquire new skills. There are about 60,000 trade union members in Cornwall and they are our starting point.
“This is very much about generating demand for learning by using the special relationship between trade unions and their members. We will reach individuals often missed by other initiatives, and encourage the take-up of learning. Our experience shows that many people who would not have considered getting back into education will respond to trade union initiated ideas.”
Using the trade union networks, the project will reach out to people in every workplace to offer advice and support on learning issues.
The project will boost peoples’ skills at all levels and hopes to make a major contribution to the development of a lifelong learning culture in Cornwall; reduce the skills gap between Cornwall, the rest of the UK and Europe, and help meet the learning and training needs of employers by building strong links with the private sector.
Paul Lucken, executive director of the Learning and Skills Council Devon and Cornwall, said: “In helping to create alternative ways of making learning – and lifelong learning in particular – accessible to local people, this project will be fulfilling a fundamental need in Cornwall.
“It also helps strengthen the links between employers and training providers, so that as demand is stimulated we can ensure the supply is tailor-made to meet local requirements.”
At the heart of the project will be a network of 60 Union Learning Representatives (ULRs) - employees who can provide front line advice and guidance on learning in the workplace and promote individual projects geared to meet the learning and training needs of employees and employers.
There could be a single ULR or a number of them in one company who will be able to help colleagues find out about learning opportunities.
The ULRs will be trained by the South West TUC and will promote not just the acquisition of basic skills but NVQs, professional and higher qualifications, ICT skills and courses in non-vocational subjects.
The project will also help to create 30 jobs specifically for women in less traditional areas.
The project will cover the whole of Cornwall, potentially attracting learners from across the county’s working population as well as those who are not currently economically active.
The centre will be up and running this week. Anyone wanting more information can contact Geoff Hale on 01566 86264.
Objective One Partnership Office
Truro TR1 2UD