STUC Union Learning Award Announced

April 22nd 2017

The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) has announced that the recipient of the 12th Annual STUC Helen Dowie Award for Lifelong Learning is Brian Ronald, a Unite Union Learning Rep at Rolls-Royce Inchinnan.

Sponsored by The Open University in Scotland, and administered by Scottish Union Learning, the award will be presented by the Rt Hon Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland and Leader of the Scottish National Party, today (3.15pm on Monday, 24 April, Macdonald Aviemore Conference Centre).

Brian works as an Engineering Inspector and is the Lead Union Learning Rep at Rolls-Royce Inchinnan. Brian was instrumental in setting up a unique learning partnership organising the Open University degree programme that runs at Rolls-Royce in conjunction with Unite, Rolls-Royce, Scottish Union Learning and the OU. The unique funding arrangement between the union, employer, and learning provider has provided members at Rolls-Royce the opportunity to study for a degree at a time that suits them, at their own pace, and at a fraction of the cost of achieving a degree as a regular part-time learner.

There are currently 30 learners registered on the OU pathway at Rolls-Royce. Brian was the first to graduate with a Bachelor of Science (BSc) Open degree in October 2016. As a Union Learning Rep, Brian has also organised other courses in 17th Edition Wiring, AutoCAD and photography for members in the workplace with the support of the Learning Fund through Scottish Union Learning.

Grahame Smith, STUC General Secretary, said:

“Brian’s ability to lead by example in workplace learning whilst also achieving a degree and working full-time is remarkable. He is a credit to his union, Unite, and to Rolls-Royce and is a fitting recipient of this year’s STUC Helen Dowie Award for Lifelong Learning.”

Brian Ronald, Recipient of the 2017 STUC Helen Dowie Award for Lifelong Learning, said:

“I am honoured to receive this year’s Helen Dowie Award, and would like to thank the STUC for selecting me for such a prestigious award. I think it’s great that the STUC formally recognises the work carried out by Union Learning Reps in this way. I would also like to thank my team of ULRs, Unite the Union and Rolls-Royce for their support in such a worthwhile project.”

Susan Stewart, Director of The Open University in Scotland, said:

“We are pleased to be sponsoring this award which recognises the critical importance of lifelong learning and learning in the workplace. Access to learning throughout our working lives has never been more important and The Open University greatly values its partnerships with unions and employers across Scotland.”

Suzanne Cullinane, Unite Learning Organiser (Scotland), said:

“Brian is a dedicated ULR for Unite and is a very worthy recipient of this award. His hard work has seen many of his colleagues take up learning opportunities they never thought possible. He has played an instrumental role in the success of a unique degree programme in his workplace whilst studying to achieve his own degree. Unite congratulates Brian on winning this award and thanks him for his hard work and dedication over the years.”


Notes for editors

The STUC established the STUC Helen Dowie Award for Lifelong Learning in 2006 to commemorate Helen Dowie's lifetime achievements in lifelong learning and to recognise other outstanding trade unionists who demonstrate their commitment to union values and lead the learning movement forward in Scotland.

Scottish Union Learning is part of the STUC and was launched in May 2008.  Scottish Union Learning works in partnership with unions to drive forward trade union-led learning in Scotland and administers the Learning Fund and Development Funds, which are supported by the Scottish Government.

Union Learning Representatives help union members get access to training, new skills and personal development.  They liaise directly with fellow workers, employers and training providers to identify a range of learning opportunities and make them available to the workforce.  Unions and Union Learning Reps provide learning and skills support to many of the 561,000 trade unionists in Scotland who are affiliated to the STUC.  

For further information please contact:

Jennifer Payne, Marketing Officer Scottish Union Learning Tel: 0141 337 8130 Mob: 07702 836 478 Email:

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