Union Skills Network


Union Skills Network - Get Involved and Make a Difference

What is the Union Skills Network?

The Union Skills Network is a government funded initiative, led by Congress that will seek to provide opportunities for workers to engage in a range of opportunities to upgrade and/or update their skills. The initiative will be targeting people in the workforce who have not yet had an opportunity to gain a third level qualification and as such it will prioritise essential workplace skills such as computers and IT, personal effectiveness, communications, problem solving and team working.

The initiative will be based in individual organisations and will seek to enable employees, with various levels of educational qualifications, to progress within their current employment by developing new skills, safeguard their employment and avail of opportunities to improve their economic situation.

How will it work?

The Union Skills Network will be a collaboration between local trade union officials and employers who will identify work based and individual learning needs and seek to develop flexible ways of meeting any needs identified. The network will be based around volunteer Union Learning Representatives will be trained by Congress to become advocates for life long learning amongst their peers. All training identified by the ULRs and delivered in conjunction with the employer will be subject to a learning agreement and as such will be funded by FAS. Subject to certain criteria this training can receive up to 100% funding.

How will this benefit employers and employees?

Employers can benefit from having a better trained, motivated and committed workforce who are flexible, responsive and adaptive to change. All training agreed through Learning Agreements will receive funding and in some cases i.e. for essential workplace skills, the funding will be up to 100%.

How will employees benefit?

All employees can benefit from upgrading or updating their existing skills. The training will be delivered in a flexible manner and certified so that people can start to progress and develop new qualifications while in employment. The training may be available in work or outside work depending on the needs of the learner. Once the employee meets certain criteria they are eligible to be funded, irrespective of whether the training is work based or outside work hours. If you have not been involved in training recently we will have a team of personal tutors to guide you on your way and support you to achieve your goals.

How will I know what courses might suit me?

As part of the initiative Congress will be looking for volunteer Union Learning Representatives, who will receive extensive training and support to enable them to work with employers to identify training needs and also provide guidance and advice to individuals who are interested in gaining a qualification but who don't know where to start. Courses will be delivered in a flexible manner to suit people's work and personal schedules. Workers can avail of single course or embark on a course of study that will lead to a certified qualification.

What types of courses/training are covered?

All forms of workplace learning will be covered, once the training comes with recognised certification. In addition to workplace learning workers will be able to access a range of personal development courses such as computers, communications skills, personal effectiveness etc. outside of work. In addition ULRs will be able to provide information to anyone wishing to pursue a course/programme of study in their own time.

How do I become a Union Learning Representative?

Congress and your union are looking for people to come forward and be part of this exciting new initiative. All ULRs will receive extensive FETAC certified training to enable then to successfully fulfil this role. In addition to their initial training ULR will be supported by a network of Regional Training and Development Coordinators and they will also have access to a wide range of online based support materials and tools. ULR will receive ongoing training throughout their first eighteen months in their role.

What will I be doing as a Union Learning Representative?

ULRs will be an integral part of their local branch structure and will work closely with their Shop Stewards and fulltime union officials to broker learning agreements with their employer on how and when they will fulfil their role. This initiative is fully backed by the individual trade unions and employer organisations. The ULR will work with the employer and or HR/Training personnel to identify the training needs of the organisation and/or individuals and through the Regional Coordinator secure funding from FAS to secure a suitable qualified course provider. The ULR will be trained to give advice and guidance on vocational/further education opportunities to individuals who want embark on a course or programme of study.



Regional Training and Development Coordinators

The Union Learning Representatives will be supported by fulltime Regional Training and Development Coordinators whose role will be to coach and support the workplace reps and ensure that they have all the resources that they need to be successful in their role. In the first instance they will work with local shop stewards and employers to promote the ULR concept and recruit and train the ULRs. They will be instrumental in ensuring that the ULRs are given the time necessary to fulfil their role. Once the ULR has identified the training needs within a workplace and activated learners the Regional Training and Development Coordinators will ensure that suitable training providers are identified and the training delivered in a manner that suits the employer and employee alike.