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The evolving role of union learning representatives

Ross, Cilla; Moore, Sian


Cilla Ross

Sian Moore


This article suggests that the union learning representative (ULR) is increasingly situated at the heart of trade union activity. The paper draws upon recent research based on interviews with national trade union officers and case studies of union learning activity to explore the competing demands being made upon ULRs and the implications for their role in the union and the delivery of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) in the workplace. It finds that whilst the government's learning and skills agenda has moved away from a broad conceptualisation of learning for social and self-development and towards an increasingly narrow interpretation of lifelong learning based upon employability, ULRs and trade unions have not abandoned this vision. At the same time, union expectations of the role of the ULR appear to have shifted and they are increasingly seen as part of wider union recruitment and organising strategies. The case studies suggest that where efforts are made to integrate ULRs into the wider union, a number broaden their activism beyond learning and make a contribution to building workplace or branch organisation on the basis of learning.


Ross, C., & Moore, S. (2008). The evolving role of union learning representatives. Journal of in Service Education, 34(4), 423-440.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Dec 5, 2008
Journal Journal of In-Service Education
Print ISSN 1367-4587
Electronic ISSN 1747-5082
Publisher Taylor & Francis
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 34
Issue 4
Pages 423-440
Keywords unions, union learning representatives, trade union, employability, workplace learning, lifelong learning
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