The Open University in Wales and Wales TUC Cymru are celebrating ten years of working together to widen access to education in the workplace. Over 1500 learners have directly benefited from learning opportunities through the partnership since 2007 and hundreds more have been offered information, advice and guidance.
Both The Open University in Wales and the Wales TUC are built on a common purpose - to support the personal development, career development, and lifelong learning of people throughout Wales – and in 2007 the organisations signed a Memorandum of Understanding which broke new ground in its commitment to widen access to higher education. The tenth anniversary of the partnership was celebrated with an event at the Senedd in Cardiff Bay on Tuesday 9 May, supported by Hannah Blythyn AM.
Over the past ten years the two organisations have worked together to develop progression pathways for workforce development in vocational learning; bridge the gap between essential skills attainment and all levels of higher education; address opportunities for continuing professional development and up-skill union learning representatives so that they can signpost members to OU provision.
Learners have gone on to undertake further study, develop their careers, and passed on their knowledge and experiences through the union learning programme.
One such learner is Steve Donoghue from Llanelli. Steve had support from his employer and his union to study with the OU and received extra support from the university because of issues with his sight. He was initially worried about how he would cope with university study following a negative experience of education at school but the OU and Union support enabled him to achieve his degree and continue to study for a second qualification. Steve went on to become a union learning rep himself, giving advice and support to those who want to know what is on offer or just need the confidence to sign up.
Speaking at the celebration event Steve said:
“My experiences of school learning were far from positive, so it took a lot for me to get back in to the learning habit. Thanks to my trade union PCS, I found The Open University's flexible approach suited me well and things blossomed from there. Not only did I get the learning bug that has helped my own career, but I found the confidence and enthusiasm to become a Union Learning Representative myself, and use my experiences to encourage others to take that first step.”
Congratulating the organisations on their ten-year anniversary Hannah Blythyn AM said:
“I am delighted to be part of the ten-year celebration of this important partnership. Up-skilling and developing our workforce is essential to Wales’ economic prosperity and the work of the OU and the TUC is fundamental in ensuring that learners have access to flexible, accessible and supported learning that meets their needs.”
Speaking at the Senedd event Hannah Pudner, Assistant Director – External Strategy for The Open University in Wales, said:
“We see the Wales TUC as a natural and important partner in our mission to widen access to higher education, develop Wales’ workforce and ensure that higher education is open to all. We are very proud of the achievements of our learners over the last ten years and look forward to seeing many more lives changed through learning.”
Siân Cartwright, Head of Learning Services at the Wales TUC Cymru said:
“Our relationship with The Open University in Wales is one of genuine partnership which will continue to enable working people in unionised workplaces in Wales to access first rate higher education learning, opening doors to greater opportunities in their career development and throughout their lives.”
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