Widening access to education is what the OU is all about. In Wales, the OU is celebrating ten years of a partnership with Wales Trades Union Congress (TUC) Cymru, which has supported over 1,500 learners since its launch in 2007. The tenth anniversary of the partnership was celebrated with an event at the Senedd in Cardiff Bay on Tuesday 9 May 2017, supported by Hannah Blythyn AM.
Built on a common purpose
Both The Open University in Wales and the Wales TUC are built on a common purpose – to support the lifelong learning, and personal and professional development of the citizens of Wales. The two organisations have worked together to develop progression pathways for workforce development in vocational learning; bridge the gap between essential skills attainment and all levels of higher education; address opportunities for continuing professional development; and up-skill union learning representatives so that they can signpost members to the OU and its formal learning.
“Encouraging others to take that first step”
Learners have gone on to undertake further study, develop their careers, and passed on their knowledge and experiences through the union learning programme. One such learner is Steve Donoghue from Llanelli. Steve had support from his employer and his union to study with the OU and received extra support from the University because of issues with his sight.
He was initially worried about how he would cope with university study following a negative experience of education at school. The OU and Union support enabled him to achieve his degree and continue to study for a second qualification. Steve went on to become a Union Learning Representative himself, offering advice and support to prospective students.
Speaking at the celebration, Steve said:
“My experiences of school learning were far from positive, so it took a lot for me to get back into the learning habit. Thanks to my trade union PCS, I found The Open University’s flexible approach suited me well and things blossomed from there; not only did I get the learning bug that has helped my own career, but I found the confidence and enthusiasm to become a Union Learning Representative myself, and use my experiences to encourage others to take that first step.”
Developing the workforce in Wales
Congratulating the organisations on their ten-year anniversary, Hannah Blythyn AM, said:
I am delighted to be part of the ten-year celebration of this important partnership. Up-skilling and developing our workforce is essential to Wales’ economic prosperity and the work of the OU and the TUC is fundamental in ensuring that learners have access to flexible, accessible and supported learning that meets their needs.