AFTER attendance at a TUC conference highlighting the issue of vulnerable workers in the workplace, a group of Union Learning Representatives (ULRs) from Barclaycard Stockton, decided to set up their own similar project.
The group identified key potential areas where workers could find themselves vulnerable, either through lack of qualifications or because of structural changes in the organisation, and this was their initial focus of activity.
These areas included the consumer sales telephone staff, who had begun to see some of their work being managed abroad, as well as the foreign languages team, whose first language isn’t English and who had been recently re-located to the Stockton site to support international services within the commercial business. Unite have been running the Insight Learning Centre in partnership with Barclaycard Stockton for the last three years. Tackling vulnerable workers became the focus of a Learning for All funding application for year four of the project, which received a written letter from senior Barclaycard management supporting the application.
The project is now helping workers with CV preparation and interview techniques so that they can take advantage of internal job opportunities with more confidence, helping contract cleaners gain Level 1 and 2 in literacy and numeracy and helping contract caterers gain their NVQs.
Brazilian-born Lillian Scott is one of the foreign language team members and, although she had been in the UK for some time, she struggled with spoken English. Through the project – and with lots of determination – Lillian has been able to complete her Level 1 and 2 English for Speakers of Other Languages qualification.
She said: “I was very happy when I achieved my English Literacy level 2. It made me feel more confident with English as it is not my first language and it’s also been a great help for my daily work.
“I am grateful to have had the opportunity to do this English course. The teacher and the Insight Centre were very supportive as they helped me achieve this qualification.”
The hard work of the ULRs over the last 12 months is starting to pay dividends, and the benefits are being felt not only by those being helped by the project but also by Barclaycard as a whole. Barclaycard is hoping to extend the project and the Insight Learning Centre to other areas of its operation in the UK. Talks regarding this are ongoing between the business and Unite through their partnership agreement and they hope to have a decision soon.
Ray Harrison, head of training and development for Barclaycard, said: “The partnership between Unite and Barclaycard has provided greater visibility of the learning agenda across the business, whilst enhancing the options available to all colleagues. The relationship has helped us to pursue our ambition of being an ‘employer of choice’.”