Supporting education, supporting activists

Branch education co-ordinators from all the regions and nations of UNISON came together on Tuesday 11 September to learn about new developments in trade union education, to discuss the training needs of activists in their sector, and to find out about the resources available to them.

UNISON Education Officer Sarah Hayes affirmed that the role of the branch education co-ordinator (BEC) is a vital one, ensuring that all activists within a branch have the appropriate training and are supported throughout their development.

Craig Hawkins from TUC Education spoke about recent challenges to trade union education, such as cuts to further education funding and declining numbers of tutors – and about developments including online and blended learning.

UNISON Education Officer Emily King invited BECs to contribute to the update of the Trained & Active Plan, and shared examples of branch education co-ordinators who have adopted innovative approaches to activist training.

And BECs had the opportunity to speak to members of UNISON’s national Learning and Organising Services team about the various resources that are available to support activist education – from e-learning to advanced employment law courses.

What do branch education co-ordinators do best? That was the question that was asked – and here are some of the answers:

  • Encourage new reps to become more active, develop and gain confidence
  • Impart knowledge and provide the means for members to increase their own knowledge and skills
  • Advise, assist and give confidence to members to become activists
  • Encourage members to get active and activists to get trained

And one attendee said,

I am brand new to the role so today I’m learning a lot. Thanks!