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Our strategic partnership with the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) and Scottish Union Learning enables us to offer group-based higher education in the workplace, with a number of unions

Typically the participants are non-traditional learners. We provide modules and, in some instances, structured pathways on to degrees or intermediate qualifications. We have also delivered non-accredited workshop-based courses to over 800 learners. Through this work we have developed a powerful tripartite model of employer-union-university partnership.

Rolls-Royce celebration event

OU in Scotland Director Susan Stewart presented Letters of Congratulations. She was joined by Rolls-Royce’s Head of Component Repair, John McCormick, Pat Rafferty, Scottish Secretary of Unite the Union, Grahame Smith, General Secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC), and Wendy Burton, Director of Scottish Union Learning.

Unite the Union, Rolls-Royce and The Open University

Working with Unite the Union and Rolls-Royce, we have been providing opportunities for engineering staff at Rolls-Royce's Scottish sites to study Open University modules and qualifications, in the workplace, for personal and professional development.

These include BEng degrees and business and management pathways. Since 2009, nearly 300 OU modules have been studied, involving over 70 students. Tailored individual learning plans are created for each student and study can fit flexibly around shift patterns. Workplace visits by tutors supplement the online course materials.

In February 2017 a celebration event was held at Rolls-Royce’s Inchinnan plant to mark students’ achievements (image to left). 

Click here to read about Brian Ronald, engineering inspector, Unite lead union learning representative, and OU graduate.

Click here to listen to Rolls Royce staff and Unite members talk about the collaboration with The OU.


Scottish Union Learning and The Open University

It's been a really good experience and gives you a great sense of achievement.
Dolanna Macleod, 
Caledonian MacBrayne employee and Transport Salaried Staffs' Association union member

(Pictured front row, far left. Photo by John Paul Photography.)

Aspiring managers from a range of Highlands and Islands' workplaces including ferries, schools and the police force completed Certificates in Higher Education Open.  

Encouraged by their union representatives and sponsored by Scottish Union Learning through European Social Funding, they studied management modules over two years.

Online study was complemented by face-to-face tutorials in Inverness with OU tutors.

Prison Officers' Association and The Open University

"I love it. It's helping me make my own writing concise. It's also helping me in my job as a supervisor of others' report writing."
Keith MacKessack, Officer at Her Majesty's Prison Perth (pictured far left)

Prison Officers in Perth and Polmont have been honing their writing skills with a 12 hour Essay and Report Writing Skills course spread over six weeks. Face-to-face tuition (with Irene Hossack, pictured third right) is given on the technical skills needed to plan and produce quality reports and essays, important for communicating both internally and with external agencies.

The OU in Scotland won Scottish Union Learning funding to provide the tuition, after prison officers approached their learning co-ordinators for training. 

Content from The OU's OpenLearn platform is incorporated. Participants are encouraged to use the free materials between tutorials and after the course, which is designed to equip them with the skills needed to progress to The OU module Communication skills for business and management.

Public and Commercial Services Union and The OU

"My confidence levels were raised and I would recommend this course to others."
Yvonne Ormiston,
Department for Work and Pensions

A bespoke Employability Skills course is being provided to members of the Public and Commercial Services union at offices and locations throughout Scotland.

The two-day workshops are aimed at administrative and clerical staff and are in keeping with the Civil Service Competency Framework. Content is drawn from Succeed in the Workplace, an OU course available from our free learning site OpenLearn.

Scottish Union Learning fund The OU's delivery of the course.

Our wide-ranging collaborations have also included:

  • Dementia Care and Mental Health non-accredited workshops provided to Unison members working within local councils and the NHS
  • ​Bespoke OU course Workplace Communications Skills for Diversity and Equality, for the entire 280-plus workforce at Dawnfresh Seafoods' Uddingston plant, funded by Scottish Union Learning. Due to the programme's success we were asked to produce another course, focussing on verbal communication and teambuilding. The firm's clients include Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury's. The Workplace Communications Skills for Diversity and Equality course was also delivered to Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union staff at Warburtons in Bellshill and at Lightbody of Hamilton.
  • Effective Communications, and Writings Skills for Business courses delivered to Public and Commercial Services Union staff at the Registers of Scotland in Edinburgh
  • Creative writing workshops for prison staff in Perth and Edinburgh - including officers, social workers and administrative staff - delivered in partnership with Scottish Union Learning and The POA (Prison Officers' Association)

Contacting us

For more information contact Learning Partnerships Officer Khadija Patel

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