In the stories below you’ll read about UNISON members who have been able to make a real difference to their lives through union learning.
But union learning is under threat. The government plans to cut the Union Learning Fund, which allows us to extend our reach and bring more learning opportunities to more members – and non-members too. We believe that cutting funding at this time, when so many people need retraining and upskilling, is a grave mistake, and we’re asking UNISON members to support the campaign to #SaveUnionLearning.
“The ULF helps people like me take a step further by using the fund to educate ourselves and become great role models for our children.”
Hasmita Dhamelia, teaching assistant, Leicester, has completed a wide range of learning through UNISON, with the help of the Union Learning Fund (ULF).
“Union learning has helped me in many ways. It’s raised my confidence to approach on-line learning. It’s let me learn in my on time, at home, away from work, without worrying about how much will it cost. It gave me choices of subjects that would benefit me in my workplace, e.g., Makaton, using sign language with children. Without union learning, I wouldn’t have gained the confidence to approach managers and headteachers to discuss issues within the workplace. And it has has helped me encourage others to take up suitable learning to further their opportunities.
“The government should continue supporting the Union Learning Fund (ULF) to help all those who would otherwise not be able to afford to better themselves. We are a minority, who do not earn a lot – unlike government ministers – yet work very hard to make ends meet. The ULF helps people like me to take a step further by using the fund to educate ourselves and become great role models for our children not to fall in the same trap as those not having had the opportunity to educate themselves.”
“This funding is instrumental in making education accessible to all corners of the British community, including those who are under-represented or underprivileged.”
Sia Livingstone, social worker, London, currently completing a Masters at Birkbeck, University of London, with the help of the fee discount negotiated by unionlearn / Union Learning Fund (ULF).
“When I enrolled on my postgraduate degree from Birkbeck College, University of London, the unionlearn discount through the ULF eased the financial pressure of being a full-time student so that I could focus my energies into my studies. When money is tight, any contribution can make all the difference between being able to afford expensive textbooks, pursuing studies or dropping out to be able to pay the rent that month. Studying for my degree has expanded my knowledge upon key social issues, so that I can provide better help to children and families as a Qualified Social Worker. It has given me new-found confidence, so that when I graduate I will seek out career challenges which I would have previously shied away from. I will have a career pathway into social research, whether working in the Government Civil Service, the voluntary sector or within academia. Having the opportunity to do an MSc in Social Research has also meant that I will be highly employable with both qualitative and quantative research skills. As a mature student improving my digital skills and learning how to use ‘R’ for advanced statistical analysis will enhance my career versatility.”
“As a Black female member of UNISON, I feel very strongly that the government should maintain the ULF. This funding is instrumental in making education accessible to all corners of the British community, including those who are under-represented or underprivileged. To promote the social mobility of these groups, such funding for on-the-job training and education can transform the lives of many who face the competitive world of employment, where discrimination can mean less chance of being hired, limited scope for career promotion and growth, as well as poor job satisfaction. Getting rid of the ULF is detrimental to the future contributions that recipients will plug back into the economy and a decision that needs to be reversed to prevent gaps in equality from getting wider and wider. So please do not dismantle initiatives which were set in place to give prospects and hope to all, rather than a select few.”
“It helps people with career progression, and better jobs mean higher wages which means we’ll be helping out in terms of taxation as well.”
Ibrahim Abdikadir, London Ambulance Service emergency ambulance crew, currently working towards Functional Skills maths qualification with the help of the ULF.
“I’m doing a Functional Skills maths qualification with the help of the Union Learning Fund (ULF) and London Ambulance Service (LAS) UNISON Branch. You have to have Level 2 English and maths if you want to join the in-house paramedic course, so the course is brilliant for people who need to bridge that gap. There are 15 or 16 of us doing the maths course, and it really helps to be studying with colleagues who are doing the same job or working for LAS in different roles. You have familiar faces, which is very nice, and you’re all in the same boat. I did an entry level maths qualification with Barnet and Southgate College last year and it’s very daunting to be in a class with other people but learning is much easier with your colleagues. When I heard LAS UNISON Branch was organising this Level 2 course, I thought, ‘Brilliant – I don’t have to go to college!’ The course is a massive help – without it, I wouldn’t be able to join the paramedic programme; without it, there would be no career progression.
“I hope the government keeps funding the ULF. It helps people with career progression, and better jobs mean higher wages which means we’ll be helping out in terms of taxation as well. I hope the government don’t scrub it completely. It’s a battle everyone has to fight together.”