- 2003 Local Government Service Group Conference
- 21 February 2003
Conference notes that the government’s emphasis on improvement in local government service delivery continues. While Conference supports the call for top quality public services, Conference also believes that an increase in investment in local government workforce development and training is central to the improvement of local government services.
Conference welcomes the joint work with the national NJC employers on workforce training and development and the Scottish Executive’s Strategy – Lifelong Learning, which outlines its policy and commitment to personal development, re-training for employability, active citizenship and Social Inclusion. It is encouraging to note that the Strategy acknowledges the vital role the Trade Union can have in working with employers to identify and tackle the skills gaps in the workplace. The Strategy can complement UNISON’s role in Return to Learn, the Education programme which delivers training in the workplace, during work time, to public sector workers. However, Conference deplores the national NJC employers’ failure to implement the new national agreement and calls on the SGE to pursue the agreed approach as a matter of urgency.
Conference notes the introduction of the new statutory rights for Life Long Learning Advisors/Union Learning Reps which will assist in the work to promote the lifelong learning agenda throughout local government.
However, Conference also notes that English local authorities are under-investing in workforce development and training:
1)Councils provide an average of 1.6 days training annually for each employee
2)Only an average of £151 is allocated to each employee for training
3)Around 40% of the training budget is spent on professional and managerial development courses
4)Only 3% of the budget is spent on other vocational courses
Conference believes that these deficiencies limit the scope of the development and training of front line staff who already experience low and unequal pay.
Conference therefore urges the SGE to continue to campaign around the theme ‘invest to improve’ in local government to secure the following:
a)Government funding, equivalent to that invested in development of the NHS workforce, to enable councils to develop and train staff
b)Improved investment in all sections of the workforce for training and development
c)Equality of access to training and development for all sections of the workforce
d)Pursue agreements on union learning representatives and produce guidance for branches to assist in negotiating training plans