Unionlearn: supporting higher-level apprenticeships

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date: July 29, 2011

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Unionlearn: supporting higher-level apprenticeships

In response to the Prime Minister's announcement of a £25 million fund to support advanced and higher apprenticeships, Tom Wilson, unionlearn director said: 'If apprenticeships are to be meaningful, they need to lead on to higher-level studies and skills. Employers need to support apprentices to degree level and beyond if we are to have a highly-skilled and competitive workforce in advanced manufacturing, information technology and engineering. Unions are working with employers to support the expansion of apprenticeships.'

Unionlearn promotes apprenticeships to disadvantaged groups in the workplace, as well as encouraging higher-level apprentices. For example it is working with unions and companies such as Caterpillar to promote apprenticeships and work-based learning. At Caterpillar, Peterlee, there are 27 apprentices in a workforce of 1,000 and up to 4 young people this year could have their degrees paid for them.

Phil Handley, managing director, Caterpillar, Peterlee, said: 'Apprentices who are given the opportunity to progress to higher levels are learning new and up-to-date skills, which is good for the company - and British industry. Our apprentices come back from college or university full of fresh ideas and enthusiasm. They develop a long-term relationship with Caterpillar and even if we do lose them to other companies, the whole workforce benefits.'

Unionlearn is also working with colleges, such as Stephenson college, Leicestershire, to ensure that unions, employers and colleges can work together to open up learning and skills for those entering the world of work.

Nigel Leigh, principal, Stephenson College, said: 'At Stephenson College we believe that developing higher level apprenticeships will respond to the needs identified by business for students who have skills that have been developed in work, for work.'

NOTES TO EDITORS:

The Higher Apprenticeship Fund prospectus is available at www.apprenticeships.org.uk/highers

More than half of employers (55 per cent) say that their employees have improved their qualifications, thanks to union-led projects. As a result, nine out of ten say they will continue to be involved in union learning activities in the workplace. Two-thirds said there had been a benefit to the organisation and eight in ten said there had been a benefit to individuals. Almost three quarters said that it increased the demand for learning among those with poor basic skills and 28 per cent said it had boosted the uptake of training for those with high-level skills. 'Assessing the impact of union learning and the Union Learning Fund: union and employer perspectives' can be read in full at http://lubswww2.leeds.ac.uk/CERIC/index.php?id=373

A survey conducted by the University of Central Lancashire revealed that three-quarters of union learning reps had helped arrange courses for their colleagues and almost half had obtained funding for learning.

All unionlearn press releases can be found at www.unionlearn.org.uk

Media enquiries:
Frances Rafferty T: 020 7079 6950 M: 07827 813439 E: frafferty@tuc.org.uk
James Asser T: 020 7079 6942 M: 07769 706104 E: jasser@tuc.org.uk


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