Council workers get learning help
Cumbria County Council is working with local government unions in a "Skills for Life" partnership to encourage its employees to develop new skills and gain qualifications.
Developed by the government's Department for Education and Skills (DfES), Skills for Life is a strategy to develop adults' basic skills, particularly in literacy and numeracy. Local government employees are among the priority groups identified by the DfES.
The partnership in Cumbria was officially launched last month, and more union learning reps (ULRs) are currently being recruited to help take it forward. The aim is to encourage and support a positive learning culture throughout the council, with ULRs providing initial skills assessments as well as information and guidance.
Preparatory work on the partnership has been going on since last year; a learning centre for care staff opened in Barrow in the summer of 2004 with support from the TUC. Centre worker and ULR Debbie Hamilton said it has made a vast difference: "I see more members speaking up in staff meetings and questioning managers. People have grown in lots of areas of their lives."
The development of further centres in Workington and Carlisle is now under way.