Ian began his learning journey when he left school in 2005, studying horticulture at college. He then completed an apprenticeship in the same subject, which led to a full time post as a gardener for Rochdale Borough Council where he began his 10 year UNISON membership.
Before long, Ian took up a workplace union position as a health and safety rep. Ian explains the importance of training, “I completed the stage 1 and 2 health and safety reps training which gave me the skills and confidence to take up the role. The training included skills in chairing meetings and taking minutes so I could take an active role in the branch and the workplace.”
Ian attended National Delegate Conference in 2012, a potentially daunting experience but for the support of training for new delegates which gave a sound understanding of conference procedures. As Ian comments, “the pre-conference training helped me feel more included in the proceedings and enhanced the experience”.
A supporter of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign, Ian’s interest in Latin America is so strong that he is taking up a BA Honours degree with the Open University starting with Spanish language in October (with the option to add different units flexibly). He will be seeking to take advantage of UNISON’s bursary scheme as part of the national partnership between the union and the Open University.
In 2015 Ian attended the North West UNISON leadership school which included education around Devolution in Greater Manchester – the impact of devolution on local bargaining arrangements, and leadership skills. From 2015 to 2016 Ian took part in all four of UNISON’s one-day member learning workshops, organised by Rochdale UNISON branch with the support of LAOS in the region and nationally. These included: Your Skills Your Future, Power to be You, Making the Most of the Internet and Stress Management. As Ian comments, “the workshops developed my confidence and gave me the encouragement to continue studying. The IT course improved my skills such as using keyboard shortcuts and maintaining your PC.”
Ian has since completed a Level 3 English online course with a distinction and a Level 3 Maths online course with a merit. He is even fitting in a Microsoft Office 2016 online course before he starts at the Open University in October and is now on the lookout for new opportunities in an office based role, preferably at the North West UNISON Regional Centre!