Scottish Union Learning Annual Conference 2018: Developing an Inclusive Workforce: Learner of the Year

February 25th 2018

Scottish Union Learning Annual Conference 2018: Developing an Inclusive Workforce: Learner of the Year

February 25th 2018

Isabella Sutherland, a member of Unite the Union who works in Aberdeen as a Heli-pad administrator for Aramark in the offshore catering sector, will receive the 8th Annual Learner of the Year Award from the STUC at the 11th Annual Scottish Union Learning Conference in Clydebank, Glasgow on Tuesday, 13 November 2018. The Award will be presented by Ivan McKee MSP, Minister for Trade Investment and Innovation.

Through Unite, Isabella has undertaken learning opportunities in her workplace on Mental Health Awareness, Understanding Equalities, ECDL, Writing and Presenting Motions and Automation. These courses have had a positive impact on her working life, improving her confidence and abilities in her workplace, and also in her personal life.

Isabella found education at school to be challenging due to large class sizes and the subsequent lack of a supportive environment in which to learn. She was aware that returning to learning was necessary in order to maintain and build her skills base to support her development at work. Unite the Union’s ‘Learn with Unite’ project, which is supported by the Scottish Union Learning Development Fund, ensured a high-quality learning experience and inspired Isabella to make use of the available union learning opportunities.

Grahame Smith, STUC General Secretary, said:

“Isabella Sutherland of Unite is a deserving recipient of the Learner of the Year Award. Learning opportunities for workers like Isabella simply would not have been available 20 years ago. In so many ways, she reflects all that is great in union learning.

“Through Scottish Union Learning, the STUC supports unions in arranging learning opportunities for thousands of workers across the country each year. Isabella is an inspirational example of how union learning can compensate workers for missed educational opportunities in earlier life, leading to improved confidence and skills in the workplace.”

2018 Learner of the Year, Isabella Sutherland, said:

“Juggling work and family commitments have been challenging, but my family have stood by me every step of the way. I’ve been determined to achieve my learning goals and I overcame those times where I felt I would never get to the finishing line. My family have always been there to reassure me of my ability and have given me that extra push.

“I was very pleased to have been nominated for this award by my union. I’m now overwhelmed at winning it; I can’t stop smiling. I want to thank the whole education team at Unite for their support throughout.

“I’ve now got the bug for learning, I’ve plans for more courses in the future and to also get more involved in my union and support others back into learning. If I was to send a message to other adult learners it would be: don’t be afraid of returning to learning, there is always someone there to support you.”

Pat Egan, Unite Learning Organiser, said:

“The determination shown by Isabella has been fantastic. Isabella is a great advocate for the union and the progress that she has made stands as a proud example of how union-led learning can support learners to progress within their workplace and also within the union.”


Photo and Interview Opportunity

The Learner of the Year Award will be presented at the 11th Annual Scottish Union Learning Conference in the Golden Jubilee Conference Hotel, Clydebank, Glasgow, on 13th November 2018 at 10:20am by Ivan McKee MSP, Minister for Trade Investment and Innovation. Members of the media wishing to attend the photo opportunity or to further interview Isabella Sutherland should contact Jennifer Payne on 07702 836 478.

Notes for editors

• The STUC through Scottish Union Learning works in partnership with unions to drive forward trade union-led learning in Scotland with support from the Scottish Government.

• Around 8,500 courses and other learning opportunities were delivered by unions in Scotland in 2017-2018 as a result of funding made available by Scottish Union Learning.

• The Scottish Union Learning Conference is supported by key partners including Skills Development Scotland and the Scottish Qualifications Authority.

For further information please contact:

Jennifer Payne Marketing Officer, Scottish Union Learning
Tel: 07702836478 Email:


Educate Agitate Organise
A Just Scotland

Scottish Union Learning