The Trades Union Congress (TUC) is set to outline plans today for the creation of a new union academy, which it says will "radically overhaul" training offered to workers in England.
The academy will offer guidance on training for employers and employees with courses ranging from basic skills to MBAs, with training advice available from a new helpline and website.
The TUC also plans for the academy to serve as a think tank and a skills research centre.
The report, ‘Learning for change’, highlights the fact that over 100,000 workers have been helped back into learning since 1998 by 8,000 union learning reps at 400 new learning centres.
It also looks at the skills gaps that exist throughout all levels in all industries in the UK and how a lack of key skills are stopping people from getting on at work, or even doing their current job properly, costing the British economy millions of pounds each year.
TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: "Britain’s skills gap is a key cause of our relatively poor productivity. Unions have a proud track record in helping people at every level from brushing up or improving basic skills to gaining MBAs. The new academy will provide a major boost to the quantity, quality and coherence of the training available to our workforce."
Chancellor Gordon Brown indicated the government's support of the scheme and today Secretary of State for Education Ruth Kelly will congratulate unions on their work in training staff.
"In recent years unions have helped put learning back at the top of the agenda in many workplaces," she said. "I welcome the TUC’s ambitious plans to develop an academy to act as a centre of excellence and best practice, as well as a very real catalyst for the learning revolution."
Chairman of the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) Chris Banks also added his support to the new academy. "This is a great opportunity to build on the excellent work already being achieved in union learning and we are looking forward to working with the TUC and unions as the academy continues to develop," he said.