Learning and Apprenticeships Update

Learning and Apprenticeships Update

A particular focus of the Unionlearn project is supporting members achieve their Maths and English qualifications.

What Learning Organisers can provide to ULRs and branches:

  • Visit your branch and help ULRs offer support to members, including apprentices. ULRs and branches are encouraged to promote this PCS support as a benefit of membership to help recruit new members to the union.
  • Help with directly approaching apprentices to see if they need assistance with English or Maths
  • Advice on ensuring that members are getting English/Maths help that must be offered by the employer and their approved training provider. PCS branches should urgently raise any failures in this regard with employers
  • Help to deliver inductions or workshops to talk to apprentices and other new members about the importance of joining PCS  

Assessment of the members learning needs:

PCS & Unionlearn is launching a new application called Skillcheck. Members can register for free, via smartphone, tablet or PC. ULRs are encouraged to put on workplace sessions for interested members (at lunchtime, or in worktime if groups and branches negotiate time off for members on the basis that achievement of qualifications is mandatory for apprentice civil servants).

If you want help demonstrating the app to members a Learning Organiser is happy to offer their assistance.

English and Maths Qualifications

It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that apprentices get the training necessary to pass their apprenticeship, which should equate to 20% ‘off-the-job’ learning, and should incorporate assistance to achieve any required English and/or Maths qualification.

How it works

  • As a requirement of funding the learning providers must include the English/Maths within the apprenticeship training programme for all those individuals who need it.
  • It is the legal responsibility of the employer to ensure providers offer appropriate, quality training and that apprentices have adequate (20%) working time away from their desk to be trained, attain qualifications, prepare portfolios, etc.

What ULRs can do to support apprentice members on English or Maths

  1. Ask all apprentice members whether they are aware that they require English and maths level 2 minimum to successfully complete their apprenticeship?
  2. Ask all apprentice members whether they are receiving appropriate quality training, including help with English and maths if required?
  3. Where the members’ training is inadequate or inappropriate, engage with the employer on behalf of the member/s to ensure this is rectified.
  4. Where providers advise they are not able or equipped to provide the Maths/English, ULRs and branches can offer to link up employers and providers with trusted local learning providers and colleges where this is the case, and help to broker such sub-contracting arrangements to ensure members get the learning they need.
  5. Help members gauge what ‘level’ they are currently at via Skillcheck.
  6. Guide members toward helpful homework quiz apps such as Skills Workshop, BBC Skillswise and Maths Made Easy to help with their confidence and progression toward required qualifications.
  7. PCS is currently working with WRANX to launch an on-line tool in association with Gateshead College which can give members a learning programme in the form of daily maths or English tasks or ‘drills’ via a smartphone app which can build learners knowledge and confidence toward being ‘exam-ready’. We will circulate full details to all branches and ULRs shortly. 

Agreed protocols

A reminder to all ULRs, branches and groups that the Cabinet Office Protocols agree:

  • Discussions with new recruits to inform them of their rights to join the relevant trade union
  • Access to Apprentice Inductions

It is essential that you share all new starter list information from the employer with your Learning Organiser as well as your relevant PCS Group or alternatively e-mail Tara Blackman. This information is vital in terms of organising and enables PCS to access Unionlearn funding.

Please contact your Regional Learning Organiser for materials and other resources or to organise events in your workplace. 


PCS will be holding events during TUC Young Workers’ Month aimed specifically at apprentices. We will be asking regional learning organisers and young members’ convenors to make contact with branches to organise events such as recruitment stalls and lunch times quizzes (Answers available from Tara, Apprentice Project Officer). All apprentices and young members are welcome to attend the events, which will provide a good opportunity to meet other members from your branch and find out more about PCS. 

If you are not currently a PCS member, become part of a generation that demands a better future and join PCS today.  All newly appointed apprentices receive six months free membership.   

If you're taking up an apprenticeship in the civil service join PCS, the union representing apprentices in government departments and related services.

Get your first 6 months membership free*.

Membership gives you access to:

Download and read the apprentice recruitment leaflet.

We are helping apprentices in the workplace every day, join now.

How to join PCS

Join online or call 0800 317 464 (or 020 7801 2670 from a mobile) and talk to our membership team or email membership@pcs.org.uk with your phone number and we will contact you.

*Applies to members on a fixed term or casual contract or an apprentice. Members are only eligible for this once.

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