Education and training in the NI Telecoms Branch

“Justice is the goal, solidarity is the tool, education is the key!” As we can see from its motto, the CWU regards workers’ education as vital to building a strong and progressive union.

The CWU not only provides a wide range of training and development opportunities for union reps and branch officers, but also actively encourages its members to take part in lifelong learning activities.

There are many reasons for participating in education and training – whether to help secure a new job or promotion, to learn more about an area of personal interest, or just to expand our horizons or to meet new people. Lifelong learning has been defined as the “ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated pursuit of knowledge for either personal or professional reasons”. While attaining a higher level of education can lead to new job opportunities and better-paid work, there are also numerous non-financial benefits to be gained from ongoing education.

Given the demands of work and life generally, it’s often difficult for people no longer in full-time education to find any time for learning.

The CWU maintains a network of trained Union Learning Representatives in each branch who are able to provide advice and support on all learning related issues. Whether you’re thinking about undertaking a formal course, and are worried about how to fit this around your hours of work, or you want to discuss opportunities for informal learning in a particular subject area, your ULR will be able to offer information, guidance and support.

Like all other branch reps, union learning reps are elected by and from the branch membership. If you wish to become a union learning rep you should contact your branch or local rep. Once elected your branch will organise your training and accreditation.

Wherever possible we offer free courses but you will be aware that the Conservative government’s policy of austerity has greatly reduced the number of courses available free of charge. Courses on Left Click are free (although some third party sites might charge fees for some of their content). Left Click Plus does levy a fee but at a significantly discounted rate – with a further 10% discount for CWU members. All activist training is free of charge.

A culture of learning

The prospect of taking on education while in full- or part-time employment can be daunting. However, it’s important to remember that there is a whole range of different formats for learning, from part-time degree courses to informal or non-formal courses and internet based self-study. While some courses are relatively expensive, others can be completely free of charge. In addition, under certain circumstances there are opportunities for sourcing funding to help with course fees.

The diversity of courses available can also be bewildering. There are now opportunities for learning in a huge range of areas, from computing and IT, to languages, management skills, finance and accounting, psychology, and healthcare. If you are considering studying in one of these, or in any other area, your ULR will be able to help you assess the options.

We aim to promote a culture of learning, in which members are actively encouraged to pursue formal or informal learning opportunities that meet their various needs and interests.

Learning Resources for CWU members

Left Click is an online resource for CWU members, offering literally hundreds of free courses in many subject areas. The learning content on Left Click was recently supplemented by the addition of Left Click Plus, which added further courses on a chargeable but subsidised basis.

The CWU also works in conjunction with a variety of colleges and other learning providers to organise courses on an ad hoc basis, although these usually depend on meeting a minimum enrolment requirement.

Further information

To get in touch with your local ULR, please speak to your local rep, or contact the regional learning secretary at cwu.learning.ni@gmail.com

To find a course: Look at the ‘courses for activists’ or ‘learning for members’ pages. Check out the courses available on Left Click and Left Click Plus – or talk to your branch ULR for courses you can take in your local area.