Union Learning Representatives: Challenges and Opportunities, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Union Learning Representatives

Challenges and Opportunities, 1st Edition

Edited by Alex Alexandrou


154 pages

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Trade unions have historically been involved in education and training in the workplace. This activity has gained greater credence and importance in the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Denmark due to the recent emergence of union learning representatives (ULRs) and Educational Ambassadors, who are a new category of trained, accredited and unpaid lay representatives based in the workplace. Their key role is to give advice and guidance to colleagues in relation to professional development, learning and training opportunities available.

These representatives work in partnership with other stakeholders, namely employers and education providers to ensure that individuals can attend educational and training courses that will help them from both a personal and work perspective. There are now 22,000 ULRs in the UK alone and they are playing a significant part in pushing the present Labour administration’s drive to expand and improve lifelong learning to create a learning society that benefits individuals, organisations and ultimately the nation and its economy. They have rewritten the rules of the workplace by helping to replace distrust and adversarial relations with partnership working based on mutual respect and trust.

This book was published as a special issue of the Journal of In-Service Education.


"A significant part of the book is descriptive and as such provides a good (if sometimes repetitive) introduction to the development of ULRs and union learning. The book also grapples with the main evaluative criteria for union learning initiatives from the perspective of a range of relevant stakeholders." - Work, Employment and Society, 2012

"This book explores the enormously important, yet often-overlooked, role of union learning representatives (ULRs) within the trade union movement […] It provides a fascinating insight into an areas of work-based learning worth greater recognition." - inTuition, 2016

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Union Learning Representatives and the Professional Development Agenda Alex Alexandrou2. Unions and Learning: An Historical Overview Bert Clough 3. The Evolving Role of Union Learning Representatives Sian Moore and Cilla Ross 4. Understanding the Role of Union Learning Representatives in Developing Distinctive Approaches to Union Learning Steve Shelley 5. Challenging the Orthodoxy: Union Learning Representatives as Organic Intellectuals Howard Stevenson 6. Learning Agreements and Socially Responsible Approaches to Professional and Human Resource Development in the United Kingdom Emma Wallis 7. Partnership Out of Conflict: The Emerging Relationship of Teacher Learning Representatives and Local Authority Continuing Professional Development Quality Improvement Officers in Scotland Alex Alexandrou and Jim O’Brien 8. In-service Learning in the Emergent Learning Representative Initiative in New Zealand Bill Lee and Catherine Cassell 9. The New Zealand Learning Representatives Project: An Assessment of the Pilot Years Donald Farr 10. Educational Ambassadors in the Danish Trade Union Movement Michael Keil

About the Author/Editor

Alex Alexandrou has worked extensively in the fields of continuing professional development, human resource management and industrial relations in both the public and private sectors, as both an academic and practitioner. He is currently a Research Associate with the Centre for Educational Leadership at the University of Edinburgh as well as Honorary Secretary of the International Professional Development Association and an Associate Editor of the academic journal, Professional Development in Education.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Development / Business Development
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Human Resources & Personnel Management
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Knowledge Capital
EDUCATION / Adult & Continuing Education
EDUCATION / Distance Education & Learning