20 Years, 20 Stories - Two decades of changing lives

Published date
At the Wales TUC we’ve been celebrating 20 years of the Wales Union Learning Fund (WULF). WULF supports learning initiatives in unionised workplaces across Wales, giving tens of thousands of workers the chance to take part in over 200 learning projects.

WULF uses investment from the Welsh Government to design and deliver adult learning courses for workers across Wales. Learners don’t need to be union members, just as long as their employer recognises trade unions.

Union Learning Reps (ULR’s) form the backbone of WULF. They’re the people who encourage and guide their colleagues towards achieving their full potential, years (and sometimes decades) after entering the workforce.

The impact of learning in the workplace

We know that there are thousands of workers out there who’re now better qualified, more confident and in higher paid jobs thanks to their unions and WULF. In 2018 – 2019 alone, over 7,000 Welsh workers benefitted from WULF training, more than half of whom were women.

I know first-hand how WULF can help people and change lives.

Back in 2006, I was a GMB branch secretary at a factory in Ystrad Mynach and I’d heard about some funding available through a thing called WULF. I called the Wales TUC who quickly helped us set up a learning centre in the middle of the shop floor, complete with desks, PCs and a smartboard.

Because of WULF, I saw many of my colleagues have their working, and personal, lives changed. It changed the culture in that factory, and I know that there are so many colleagues of mine from that time who went on to do more learning and achieve great things.

Celebrating two decades of learning

On Thursday 21 November we celebrated two decades of WULF at the Pierhead Building in Cardiff Bay. We were joined by our affiliated trade unions, Welsh Government civil servants and Welsh Assembly members.

Minister for Economy and Transport, Ken Skates AM, congratulated trade unionists and ULR’s across Wales and First Minister Mark Drakeford AM also sent a recorded message.

Visit our News page to find out more about our WULF celebrations.

We want to hear WULF stories. If you've been involved in a WULF project or in trade union learning in the past then please get in touch online:

  • Tweet us using #WULF20 and @walestuc
  • Post on Facebook tagging @WalesTUCCymru
  • Share a photo of yourself on Instagram using #WULF20 and @WalesTUCCymru
  • Email wtuc@tuc.org.uk

A partnership to be proud of

WULF is a shining example of the type of partnership that we in the trade union movement are very proud of. We’re very grateful for the financial and moral support that Welsh Government has consistently put behind union-led adult education.

I’m also grateful to the trade unions for investing in it so heavily themselves and the countless union reps who make this whole thing work. Finally, I’m incredibly proud of all of the adult learners who’ve taken part in WULF programmes and made it such an on-going success.

Anyone who would like to get involved with learning at work – either as a learner or as a Union Learning Rep – can contact the union in their workplace.

Ruth Brady is President of Wales TUC