Staff paid to retrain

June 23, 2000

Lancaster University is to investigate the learning needs of its staff as part of the Department for Education and Employment's campaign to promote the benefits of lifelong learning in the workplace.

Five campus unions, led by the Association of University Teachers, have been given about Pounds ,500 from the DFEE's Union Learning Fund to research the learning and training needs of academic, clerical and maintenance staff.

Joe Thornberry, Lancaster AUT training officer, said the changing nature of higher education meant employment prospects needed to be put into context.

"More than half of our staff have fixed-term contracts. We are concerned that they will not have the necessary skills if they need to move into a different area, such as industry," he said.

Interviews by Lancaster's department of continuing education revealed that there is a high demand for additional training.

"The university employs a huge proportion of the region's workforce and sees itself as a major provider of lifelong learning opportunities. Our learning facilities are already heavily used by academic staff and students, but we want to overcome the barriers that mean some staff groups are usually overlooked for re-training," Mr Thornberry said.

Plans to set up a staff learning centre in association with St Martin's College and Morecambe Bay NHS Trust are being considered.

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