Why we need to know what union members think about learning at work
So, what do we know know about what workers or industry and union leaders think about union support for lifelong and workplace learning in the UK? Do all workers know what Union Learning Representatives are and what they do? Do workers who have access to learning at work know how their learning is funded? Are they aware of trade union, government and employer support for learning? Is learning in their workplace sustainable in the current economic and political climate? And if not, are workers concerned about this? These questions have formed the basis of my PhD research project established in 2005.
Trade Unions were originally set up to defend workers terms and conditions of employment. However, a lesser known fact is that for more than 100 years, unions have provided Trade Union Education; normally negotiating and basic literacy and numeracy skills. In recent years trade unions are increasingly; negotiating for, supporting, and sometimes providing, workplace learning. My research attempts to explore and understand the level of worker awareness of the evolving, but sometimes almost hidden, role of unions supporting workplace learning.
Are then trade unions the ghost in the UK learning system?