STUC Helen Dowie Award for Lifelong Learning

Helen Dowie Award 2017

Suzanne Cullinane from Unite with Nicola Sturgeon and Grahame SmithThe 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 was presented by the Rt Hon Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland and Leader of the Scottish National Party, at STUC Congress on 24th April 2017. Suzanne Cullinane, Unite Learning Organiser, accepted the award on Brian's behalf as he was unable to attend.

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.”

Related resources

OpenLearn: Revisiting Red Clydeside In January 2019 Glasgow Trades Council joined with Open University to mark the centenary of the Red Clydeside at an event in George Square, Glasgow.