Lifelong learning co-ordinator

List of skills © Jess Hurd/

Branches, through their officers, have responsibilities to… provide opportunities for the education of members and the development of activists

UNISON Code of Good Branch Practice

The role of the lifelong learning co-ordinator is to lead on member learning in the branch. They work closely with the branch education co-ordinator and the same person might even carry out both roles. They can be a vital link between union learning reps, the branch committee, and learning providers.

The lifelong co-ordinator should work collectively with other activists to achieve branch aims around learning and skills. They may have started out as a union learning rep, and they can can support union learning reps in their roles, through mentoring, goal-setting, and providing a positive example of leadership. They should also be involved with negotiations with the employer, with the aim of ensuring that UNISON’s learning and skills agenda is embedded in learning agreements.

The branch lifelong learning co-ordinator will:

  • co-ordinate the activity of union learning reps in the branch education team
  • work with colleagues to recruit new union learning reps
  • be closely involved in negotiating around learning with the employer
  • co-ordinate information on learning activities for the branch
  • ensure that the work of union learning reps is fully integrated into the branch, so that, for example, the opportunity to recruit new members and new activists around learning is taken up fully
Maria Alberts, lifelong learning co-ordinator at Gateshead Health branch

Maria Alberts, lifelong learning co-ordinator at Gateshead Health branch

I used to come across people who would say they weren’t clever enough to do any courses because they had bad memories from school. But I tell them that our courses are not like school because the support is always there and nobody is going ot put you down – and when they do them they say, Yes, you’re right!

Learning gives people a gateway to go on to other jobs in the NHS, and progressing people who know the culture is better for the organisation than bringing in people who don’t know.

Building people’s confidence like this gives me such a big buzz because I think I’ve done what I set out to do, which is improve someone’s job, improve someone’s life.

Photograph © Jess Hurd/