Understanding the role of union learning representatives in developing distinctive approaches to union learning
This article aims to provide a broad understanding of the role of ULRs and the contribution of union education and learning initiatives. It examines the scope for union learning to be distinctive and sustainable and it does this by summarising and building upon an holistic review of research of ULR activity across the range of work and unions in the UK. It finds that there are opportunities arising from union learning, particularly for individuals to access learning opportunities for the first time, enabling economic and social well-being; and the potential to develop critical awareness, reflection and action, with an emphasis on learning through social participation. It also stresses the need for caution in assessing achievement to date, with research suggesting a narrow focus of union learning, on increasing supply of qualifications rather than raising skill demand, and on low-level qualifications with little added value. It concludes that ULRs can play a central role in strengthening the contributions of learning initiatives through the union movement.