This piece appeared in the Bury Council Team Talk newsletter:
Staff are learning new skills for inside and outside the workplace thanks to an agreement between the council and trades unions.
In May 2012, the council and the three main unions representing staff on NJC conditions (Unison, Unite and GMB) supported by the TUC signed a Partnership Agreement pledging to work together to develop Bury Council as a Learning Organisation, by encouraging all employees whatever their grade or job role to access and benefit from learning and development opportunities.
This set up the Joint Learning Forum, which set to work on a specific Learning Agreement for Bury which is now in an advanced stage of development.
Earlier in the year Roger Pakeman, Unison’s branch education officer, organised the training of ten Union Learning Reps (ULRs) within the council. This was an innovation for the unions as although ULRs are union members they work with any member of staff who needs their assistance.
The role of the ULR is to work with HR and workforce development teams across the departments to raise awareness of the benefits of learning, identify learning needs, help employees find sources of learning and advise on any funding available.
Rosemary Barker, OD and recruitment manager, said: “The old misconception was that ULRs focused on improving basic English and maths skills, but they actually also promote the take-up of vocational qualifications, recreational courses and higher education such as through the Open University.
“The overall aim is to create a learning culture to equip Bury Council and its staff for the future, both at work and in their daily life.
“Ten ULRs is a good start, but more are needed across all departments and the many different council work sites. The ULRs are ready and willing to assist, so get in contact with them if you need anything.”