- Employers as partners
- Learning with UNISON
- Learning locally
- Learning in Action
- Learning in the workplace
Bridges to Learning
Bridges to Learning
Bridges to Learning (B2L) is a unique 3-way partnership between The Open University (OU), UNISON and the Workers' Educational Association (WEA) which aims to extend learning opportunities to health and social care sector workers in the North East of England.
How does it work?
This ground-breaking partnership works with UNISON members and their employers to deliver dynamic progression pathways that have been specifically designed to enhance the personal and professional development of health and social care sector staff from all levels, regardless of their starting point.
The project focuses on those areas of workforce development that make a visible difference to the prospects of individual UNISON members working in health and social care, including:
- literacy and numeracy skills
- learning for personal development
- IT training
- Vocational Qualifications in health and social care, administration and other areas relevant to work
- first steps in higher education
- initial training in nursing or social work or other health and social care professions
- post registration training and beyond
The B2L Union Learning Reps (ULRs)
The B2L ULRs are released from normal duties to dedicate their time to working with their members and employers to develop new learning and training. This release time is paid by the Bridges to Learning partnership.
Each B2L ULR works differently, depending on their situation, skills and experiences. Their activities include:
- conducting learning needs surveys in their workplaces
- putting on events (including Adult Learners Week)
- meeting colleagues to discuss their learning needs
- working with Workforce Development teams
- arranging courses, in-house or with third party providers
- producing and distributing literature advertising learning opportunities
- organising periodic meetings with senior member employer representatives to ensure their activities dovetail with workforce development activities
- working at strategic level (e.g. joining their employers' Education and Training Committee)
How successful has the project been?
Initially funded for just 2 years, the project has enjoyed so much success that the Union Learning Fund has extended its support by committing more funding to secure the project for a further 2 years until the end of March 2012.
To date, 4,000 individuals have accessed learning opportunities via the project, with a little over 100 of these opting to take their first steps into higher education, the majority by studying an OU course.
As a result of Bridges to Learning, there are proactive UNISON ULRs in 8 health and social care workplaces in the Northern region:
- County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust
- Gateshead Council
- Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust (to April 2011)
- Newcastle City Council
- Newcastle Hospitals NHS Trust
- North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust
- South Tyneside Council
- Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust
Find out more about B2L
Case studies about the work of the ULRs, their own personal and professional development through B2L and the contributions of their employing organisations are featured on the following pages.