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Written Statement - Wales Union Learning Fund projects in 2013-16

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Jeff Cuthbert, Deputy Minister for Skills

I wish to update Members on our plans for the Wales Union Learning Fund (WULF) projects in 2013-16.

Members will know that WULF was launched by the Welsh Government in April 1999 in order to build capacity within the Union movement to maximise learning engagement with both individuals and employers. Since that date, WULF has assisted 166 projects with over £13m provided by the Welsh Government. My determination to continue making progress in this area is undiminished.

To this end my officials and the Wales TUC and have been working together to strengthen the alignment of current and new WULF projects within Welsh Government policy and programmes aimed at improving essential skills in the workplace and this is reflected in the bids received.

The current WULF bidding round commenced on 1 September 2012 and ended on 31 October 2012.  

Twenty one bids were received totalling £3,731,769.53 for the three year period.

An independent assessment panel comprising of senior officers from EEF - The Manufacturer’s Organisation, Wales TUC and the Welsh Government convened on 28th November 2012 to assess and score the bids against the criteria set out in the WULF Prospectus.  

I am pleased to report that the quality of the bids was very high with clear and direct links to the Welsh Government’s Essential Skills in the Workplace programme.

Twenty bids were approved by the panel which I ratified.  These are detailed below.

  • The Learning To Make A Difference project will offer opportunities to improve the skills of ‘hard to reach’ workers employed in the delivery of services in North Wales in the NHS, Shared Services and Emergency Services including Ambulance, Police and Fire Authority staff. (Unison)
  • Connecting Learners will offer opportunities to improve the skills of ‘hard to reach’ workers employed in the delivery of services in North Wales, in the Community & Voluntary Sector, Local Authorities, Non-statutory health and social care sector (Private Nursing Homes, non-registered residential homes etc), Social Housing and Community Housing Mutuals.(Unison) 
  • Connecting Learners in South & Mid Wales will increase the effectiveness of work-based learning (with a particular focus on the essential skills of literacy, numeracy and IT across the areas of social care and housing. (Unison)
  • DigiSkills Cymru will offer opportunities to workers providing public services across Wales to improve their digital skills and increase their capability to learn and work online. It will also create a network of trained “Digital Champions” in public service workplaces and support the development of “Community Hubs for Digital Learning”.(Unison) 
  • Personal and Professional Learning for Midwives and Maternity Support Workers in Wales - working with Local Health Boards and the National Leadership & Innovation Agency for Health (NLIAH).(The Royal College of Midwives)
  • Pathways to Learning aims to provide bespoke learning opportunities for staff to compliment the training programme offered by the service.  The project will also extend its support to seconded staff and staff that may be affected by the “Blaen Gar project”.(NAPO)   
  • Gaining Accessible Learning in Wales project will widen accessibility for thousands of public sector workers across Wales. As well as supporting traditional learning it will provide learning opportunities for excluded workers in their communities and through ‘pop-up’ mobile learning centres on essential skills and vocational learning.(PCS Wales) 
  • Widening the participation of essential skills in the workplace. The project will increase the number of people able to access lifelong learning in Usdaw workplaces across Wales. It will enable participation of more retail sites and increase the amount of accessible provision available across all participating workplaces (Usdaw)
  • Supporting Skills Development in a Rapidly Changing Industry, offering a diversity of subsidised training opportunities to media workers in Wales and supporting vulnerable workers through recession to recovery.(NUJ)
  • Dysgu’r Dysgwyr – Teaching the Teachers project, the first of its kind in Wales, will network a group of Union Learning Representatives across Wales and promote lifelong learning to teachers.(NUT)
  • Building Learning and Essential Skills in the Workplace & Community (Construction & Related Sectors) project will provide access to learning opportunities both in the workplace and community. It will: support ‘Essential Skills in the Workplace’ activity; tackle barriers to learning and the ‘digital divide’; help qualify the construction workforce; and improve learners’ skills, confidence and ability.(UCATT)
  • Step Up To Learning 5 (Part A) – Building on success project will build on established workplace learning models to raise participation in workplace learning and skills. The project will establish learning and skills campaigns and link them to existing Unite branch campaigns to mainstream learning and skills as a key union issue.(UNITE)
  • Step Up To Learning 5 (PART B) – Supporting Success project aims to tackle the huge challenges facing the Welsh economy and workforce over the next three years by building on established workplace learning models to increase participation in workplace learning.(UNITE) 
  • Participation through Partnership II project aims to develop solutions to the specific challenges faced by food manufacturing in Wales. The project will continue to work with a number of large partner employers, widen participation in learning for non-traditional and vulnerable workers and develop advice and guidance on skills for temporary, part-time and agency workers in the industry.(BFAWU)
  • Craft and Technical Skills for Creative Workers is a partnership between the trade union BECTU, employers and further education colleges who are committed to working together to support industry professionals and new entrants to improve their skills and knowledge for the benefit of individuals and employers in this strategically important sector in Wales.(BECTU)
  • CULT Cymru – Creative Unions Learning Together working in partnership to enhance the skills and knowledge of creative workers.(BECTU, EQUITY, MU & WGGB)
  • The Learning Partnership Programme is an innovative collaboration between the Rail Unions, Train Operating Companies and Learning Providers working in partnership to inspire a culture of learning within the workplace by creating learning opportunities to rail workers across Wales.(ASLEF)
  • Building for the Future aims to develop a long term plan for increasing the skill levels of learners, while continuing to address essential skills needs and increase learning opportunities.(Community)
  • The ‘Promote and Provide’ project is designed to establish essential skills programmes within workplaces across Wales.(GMB)
  • The ‘Learning Journey’ project will use a variety of innovative ideas to engage rail infrastructure workers, in Wales, in essential skills activity. The key players in this collaborative project are the RMT union and Network Rail.(RMT)

Given the ongoing economic challenges we face, I am committed to raising skills and increasing learning opportunities by engaging with the trade union movement through the WULF programme. In doing so, we are raising standards at the very heart of the Welsh economy. 

We need to build on and learn from best practice and my officials are working closely with Wales TUC, and other key partners, to continue to promote skills development within Welsh businesses.