English courses for speakers of other languages (ESOL)

PCS’s learning team is able to organise free English language classes for speakers of other languages (ESOL). 

Running ESOL courses is a good way to recruit new members, and organise and build the union. We are particularly interested in arranging courses for workers in cleaning, catering, security and other parts of the privatised facilities management (FM) sector.

Subject to funding availability

Over the past 10 years, government funding for ESOL courses has been cut back. 

Contact your regional learning organiser to find out if government funding is available in your area.  If it is, your regional learning organiser will try to broker free learning with local providers. 

The Department for Education (DfE) is currently developing a national strategy and we will publish updated guidance once we know more.

Cleaners, caterers and security guards in the commercial sector

All PCS branches and groups are welcome to contact us to find out more.

This learning initiative is particularly aimed at cleaners, caterers, security guards and other workers in the facilities management (FM) sector. 

The vast majority of FM work is now outsourced, and characterised by poor job security and very low pay. Employers invest little, if anything, in workforce learning and skills.

The cleaning workforce is 80% female and part-time, with black and migrant workers over-represented and qualifications lower than average.

Supporting workers and building the union

ESOL courses improve workers' ability to read, write and speak English. As a result, attending a course will develop workers' skills, knowledge and confidence.

It therefore has the potential to:

  • Enable workers to better understand their employment rights
  • Help develop strong, confident workplace leaders, who will 
  • Build the union.

Negotiating time off with employers

We will be publishing a brief guide for reps seeking to negotiate time off for workers to attend ESOL classes. 

ESOL courses can benefit an employer, by:

  • Upskilling the workforce
  • Improving communication and employee engagement, including around key issues like health and safety.

Further information

Unionlearn and the British Council, with support of unions, have produced an interactive module for union reps on English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) in the workplace.

This is a self-study module that aims to help union reps think of how to build ESOL awareness and develop learning opportunities.

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