LAS UNISON wins award for securing qualifications for staff

London Ambulance Service UNISON has won an award at the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CONEL) annual Excellence Awards for the work they have done on helping members secure the qualifications they need to apply for the service apprenticeship courses.

UNISON have worked hard to support those staff who want to undergo the apprenticeship courses that the Service offers, but do not have or could not find their certificates to prove they had the requirements needed to apply for the course. UNISON offered an opportunity for staff to attend a functional skills course to gain qualifications in Maths and English, which would be the equivalent of a GCSE qualification.

Mark Belkin, LAS UNISON Branch Education Officer and Paramedic at Friern Barnet was behind the whole idea, Mark worked together with Eddie Brand, LAS UNISON Branch Secretary and Tim Stephens LAS UNISON Branch Chair to discuss the challenge that staff did not have the skills needed, or could not find the evidence that they had the skills to go on to their desired apprenticeship.

Eddie Brand said:
“If you’re anything like me, you will not have a clue where your GCSE’s / O Levels certificates are. We wanted to make sure that staff did not have a barrier when it came to applying for further development. We worked with CONEL College to gain funding from Education England to be able to put staff through the necessary learning to gain the skills required.
“It’s fantastic that our Branch has been recognised for the work we’ve done to ensure staff can access the training they need to further their careers.”

Mark Belkin said: “the vast range of staff who went on the course was amazing– staff who were unable to find certificates for their qualifications, but also staff who just wanted to gain the qualifications to better themselves. The tutors were excellent, they made the learning relevant to ambulance staff. I am chuffed that we were able to do this for staff, it means a lot to them.”

Lauren Inness, Emergency Ambulance Crew from North Kensington station underwent the training and explains:
“Over the summer, UNISON offered an opportunity for me as well as many other colleagues to attend a functional skills course to gain qualifications in Maths and English which would be the equivalent of a level C at GCSE level. UNISON were great, they provided us with a lovely facility to learn in, provided lunch as well as paid for our travel and all course fees! to take these exams privately with other providers this would have been very pricey.

“The tutors that were provided to us had a tough job getting a bunch of adults who have been out of education a while and used to being in full on active jobs all day to sit in a class room environment and learn, but they did well! They were kind, caring and patient. They allowed everyone to learn at their own pace and sit exams as and when the individuals felt ready. They were really flexible around our busy schedules which made the whole thing so much easier!

“Everyone passed who was on my course which means we are all now in a position to move forward with our career within the Service and start on either the Academy or the Paramedic apprenticeship if and when they start up. This is something that for me would have been unlikely been achievable without the help of UNISON.”

Story originally published on ‘the pulse’

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