Learner of the Year Award

The Scottish Union Learning Board introduced the Scottish Union Learning Learner of the Year Award in 2011, with the aim of recognising the range of learning journeys currently undertaken by learners in the workplace, supported by trade unions. The Learner of the Year Award 2023 was sponsored by The Open University in Scotland and presented at STUC Congress.

Learner of the Year Award 2018

Isabella Sutherland, 2018 Learner of the Year. Photo by Fraser Band.

Isabella Sutherland, a member of Unite the Union who works in Aberdeen as a Heli-pad administrator for Aramark in the offshore catering sector, received 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 was presented by Ivan McKee MSP, Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation.

Isabella was chosen as 2018 Learner of the Year because of her commitment both as a learner and as an advocate for adults returning to learning in the workplace.

Learner of the Year Award 2017

Priscilla Maramba, 2017 Learner of the Year, and Jamie Hepburn MSP.

Scottish Union Learning presented the 7th Annual Learner of the Year Award to Priscilla Maramba, a UNISON member who works at Stirling Council, at the 2017 Scottish Union Learning Conference in Edinburgh. The presentation was made by Jamie Hepburn MSP, Minister for Employability and Training.

Priscilla was born and brought up in Zimbabwe, and worked as a solicitor there until life started to become challenging under the government regime of Robert Mugabe. In 2001, Priscilla came to the UK to study and make a new life for herself and her three children.

Learner of the Year Award 2016

At the 2016 Learning Conference, Lauren McDonald and Jamie Hepburn MSPScottish Union Learning presented the 6th Annual Learner of the Year Award to Lauren McDonald, a CWU member who works at BT Dial House in Glasgow.

Lauren was chosen as the 2016 Learner of the Year because of her strong commitment to learning. This has been demonstrated through her achievements during a CISCO CCNA course, which is an advanced IT course, and her subsequent entry on to a Modern Apprenticeship at SVQ Level 3. The CWU has organised three CISCO CCNA courses in BT in Glasgow over the last few years through the Learning Fund from Scottish Union Learning. Entry to the course was highly competitive, but Lauren managed to secure a place.

Learner of the Year Award 2015



The fifth annual Learner of the Year Award was presented to RMT member Barry Weldon, who is a Travel Clerk based at Glasgow Queen Street Station. The presentation was made by Roseanna Cunningham, Cabinet Secretary for Fair Work, Skills and Training and Grahame Smith, General Secretary of the STUC, at the Scottish Union Learning Conference 2015.

Barry was chosen as the 2015 Learner of the Year because of his commitment to learning and equalities. He struggled at school, especially with English, and left aged 17, giving up his dream of going to university to work in the retail sector. Five years ago, he joined the rail industry, and returned to learning through his passion for equalities by undertaking a trade union equalities course organised by RMT at Glasgow Kelvin College. Experiencing some difficulties due to the high volume of reading, Barry suspected he may have dyslexia. He confided in RMT Union Learning Rep Mary Jane Herbison, who advised him to contact Scottish Union Learning. After initial discussions, Barry was referred to the Learner Support Co-ordinator at the College who organised a series of assessments and provided excellent support.

Learner of the Year Award 2014

learner of year award 2014



Glasgow Royal Mail Centre

The recipient of the fourth Learner of the Year Award was Alasdair Maclean, a Communication Workers Union (CWU) member and Postal Worker at the Glasgow Royal Mail Centre in Springburn. Alasdair was chosen as the 2014 Learner of the Year because of his strong commitment to learning, despite his physical difficulties caused by Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

“I always wanted to be a postie,” says Alasdair. “My grandfather was a postman and I looked up to him. I worked as a delivery postman for a decade before I was diagnosed with MS. Since the disease meant I was not fit to carry out delivery duties any longer, I was asked to retire at 32 from the Royal Mail. I didn’t want to do that.”