Chapter 13 - National Education Centre
The emphasis of the work of the National Education Centre (NEC) this year has been on change. The NEC was opened in 1984 and is situated in Crouch End, North London. The centre has 67 en-suite bedrooms, six fully equipped training rooms, TV and radio studios, a Conference Hall and Computer Training Room. Over the last twelve months it has undergone changes in both staff and structure. It has continued to perform at the extremely professional level which has been expected of it, whilst evolving new strategies in order to develop the centre. More than 7,000 clients made use of these facilities over the year.
The NEC has had many customers, both old and new pass through its doors during the last twelve months. New clients such as SCOPE, Save the Children, National Children=s Homes and Actionaid, who have now begun to use us on a regular basis, coupled with continued use by our ongoing customers, confirms the popularity of the Centre throughout the trade union movement and beyond.
The past year has also seen the introduction of the TUC Organising Academy which was launched in November 1997 (see Chapter 3). The Organising Academy=s training sessions are held at the NEC. The collaboration between Training and Development Officers supporting the academic accreditation and Organising staff=s on the job experience has proved to be very successful.
This year saw a change in staffing with the newly created post of Director which brought together the training and residential arms of the NEC. Linda Kelly took up this post in November 1997. Having a Director has enabled the NEC to respond quickly to new initiatives and take up new opportunities as they present themselves. One of the issues that the Centre will look at over the next year is whether it should go one step further and try to attain full college status. The base of associate trainers from other sectors has also been increased thus making it possible for the NEC to provide both a professional training service and a specialist service in specific areas.
Whilst the national course programme is proving to be as popular as ever bespoke work is being developed and, in particular, work in relation to Investors in People. One particular feature of this has been the interest in developing Management Training. Within this context the Centre has concentrated on the practical side of management and particularly managing within the trade union context. This is an area that will be expanded over the next few years and discussions have taken place with Cranfield University in developing joint initiatives.
Waverley House, part of the NEC, is being developed as a Amanagement centre@ to enable the NEC to further develop these courses. The new centre has a specially designed training suite equipped with both formal and informal settings.
The NEC has been working with many unions giving support to enable them to achieve IiP. In some cases this has involved a total consultancy role where the NEC have liaised with the union from inception of the proposals right through to the award. In other cases assistance has been given to improve particular aspects of a union=s personnel and development practices and procedures. The NEC will also undertake to fulfil any training needs generated by attempting to achieve IiP.
The NEC has embarked on a new phase of development during the past year - using computer technology to provide a new style of distance education. Modern developments in communications have made it possible to commission a new web-based distance learning system called TUC Education-On-line!
With the benefit of computer communications tutors will conduct on-line seminars - inviting participants to study and comment on course materials with both the tutors and participants being able to input. Where this type of computer-mediated learning has been introduced it has achieved higher success rates than in traditional distance learning methods.
Professional full-time union officials and staff can sign up to a new range of modern, well-prepared distance learning courses, designed to meet their needs to be kept up-to-date on new developments. The new distance learning courses combine the best in written materials with the use of audio, video and computer-based learning. Participants will have access to a personal tutor who will help them complete their chosen course - with the freedom to study at times most suited to their own busy schedule.
This innovative approach provides another way of studying - adding to the range of training activities traditionally available. It offers increased choice and more flexibility, strengthening the overall provision of the TUC NEC in the field of high quality officer and staff training.
Training officers all work with designated unions. This enables them to help with any consultancy work or bespoke courses that they may require. This work may also involve looking at organisational development particularly relating to IiP or Information Technology on a consultancy basis.
The NEC programme for this year has been well supported by the affiliates . However there needs to be an ongoing discussion as to the nature and type of courses that are run and the NEC will be consulting with affiliates over the next year in order to keep developing its provision of courses.
In addition an innovative summer school programme was run. This included a TUC Summer School, Women=s Summer School, other targeted courses and general skills courses.
The NEC has been proactive in supporting the New Unionism Organising Academy (see chapter 3). Jointly with the academy staff the NEC have provided a professional course over the year for the first intake of trainees. In addition support is being given to the training and development work that needs to be undertaken in relation to the Fairness at Work White Paper (see chapter 1). Staff from the NEC have also been involved in the Learning Services Task Group and particularly within the ADAPT bid that the TUC is making(see appendix 1).
The TUC has continued to be one of the partner organisations responsible for organising and delivering the European Trade Union CollegeÕs flagship European Training Course.
This course is designed for young, full-time officers who have a basic understanding of European affairs and will shortly be faced with the challenge of transnational trade union activity.
The European Training Course aims to give participants an understanding of the structures and policies of the European Union as well as significant European industrial relation issues. The course comprises three residential units, the first of which was held last year in Hattingen, Germany, and focused on comparative aspects of workersÕ representation in Western Europe. The second unit held in Brussels primarily looked at the European institutions and the role unions can play in influencing the decision-making processes. While the final unit in Madrid concentrated on European Social Policy and unemployment.
At the beginning of the year the ETUCo contracted the TUC to run a series of high-quality seminars for young people on behalf of the European Trade Union Confederation. The TUC is responsible for the design and delivery of the seminars and for coordinating the work of the co-tutors. The TUC has been contracted to manage two transnational seminars this year. The subjects include: Young People=s Participation in Trade Unions and Atypical Work.
In response to the demands of the new business and new initiatives the following structural changes have taken place.
New Training Rooms and Distance Learning Suite
The Training and Developmental Officers are now all situated together in an open plan office, thus enabling the development of three new fully equipped training rooms on the top floor, able to take groups of up to fifteen.
The NVQ Assessment Centre has relocated to what was formally the National Training and Development OfficerÕs office on the ground floor and a new distance learning suite has been installed next to the computer training room. This is an exciting project where individuals can book in to use any one of the computers with access to the Internet. They may be taking up distance learning courses on a number of packages or just improving their computing skills. It is hoped this will become fully integrated into the TUC=s response to the University for Industry.
As noted above, the Waverley House building has been transformed into a Management Centre. It will have its own direct access and will give rise to one large training suite which will incorporate boardroom style and soft furnishings followed by several break-out rooms. Refreshments will be available and, on a limited basis, accommodation.
Space has been developed to provide a new creche facility when required. In addition more-up-to date equipment will be provided for creative play.
As well as developing the mind, participants in courses need the opportunity to relax and recharge their batteries. Old storage space has been replaced with an exercise room and an adjacent sauna. In the grounds, badminton and volley ball courts have been marked out and equipment purchased. For those who have a more relaxed approach to recreation a boules area has been created.