Evaluation of the Scottish Union Learning Fund - Year 1 (2000-2001)
Chapter eleven: implications and recommendations
Policy and strategy
11.1 SULF project managers highlighted the difficulties faced in developing a sustainable project in one year. Seven of the project managers sought funds from SULF to continue activities. Where a project meets all of the criteria and presents a strong case for two year funding the Executive should make this funding more accessible, with appropriate performance conditions 15.
11.2 Learning representatives and models of work-based learner support are key to the success of many SULF projects. A constraint on the achievement of many projects links to the lack of support from employers, particularly in terms of paid release for study or access to learning resources at work.
11.3 At the national level the Scottish Executive has the capacity to work with its agencies to promote the value of lifelong learning to employers and make the case to employers for supporting workforce development activities including those initiated by unions at the workplace. In particular, the Executive should work with the Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise networks to promote SULF and the projects funded by it and facilitate and secure sources of mainstream funding for the projects post SULF where appropriate.
11.4 The development of support networks for LRs and the possibility of using SULF to develop the mechanisms should be considered. These may include the development of a website or database.
11.5 Further consideration should be given to linking SULF to the Adult Literacy and Numeracy strategy. The Scottish Executive should consider whether additional funds can be "ring fenced" for union led Literacy and Numeracy initiatives, particularly those that help unions to develop capacity to support locally based initiatives.
11.6 SULF projects should include objectives and actions which seek to engage the union in dialogue with employers at a strategic level to promote the value of learning to the organisation. In practice, this could be reflected in requiring more specific statements of contribution and involvement in SULF from employers at the bidding stage, where employer support is required (this is not necessarily through matched funding, more a case of specifying the role each partner will play in project delivery).
11.7 The Scottish Executive should ensure that projects that develop online learning materials have been fully researched and planned to ensure they meet their targets and the costs do not exceed expected costs.
11.8 The Scottish Executive should ensure there is sufficient lead-time from the invitation to submission of bids, and that there is clear expectation of demonstrable and achievable targets in the submissions.
11.9 Key stakeholder organisations are in an advantageous position to promote SULF to employers and other organisations. Links to the key stakeholders should be reinforced and the Executive should be more proactive in disseminating information about SULF and promoting the fund at conferences. A specific website for SULF should be established and links made with sites of these stakeholders.
11.10 There is a need for unions to be able to demonstrate more clearly, through more systematic monitoring and evaluation, the added value of their activities.
11.11 Unions need to improve their project management skills, including how to set, measure and evaluate project outcomes. The STUC LLU is helping the unions to develop their project management skills by running a series of workshops with project managers and the development of a toolkit. In particular, more focus on the development of monitoring systems is recommended. Any systematic approach should be appropriate to the needs and resources of unions managing projects. SULF projects may need provision of funds to ensure availability of consistent and reliable data.