Learner of the Year Award

Learner of the Year Award 2020

LOTY 2020: Barry Young, a member of Unite the Union

The recipient of the 2020 Learner of the Year Award was Barry Young, a member of Unite the Union.

Barry, who works in Kilmarnock as a painter in Housing Asset Services for East Ayrshire Council, received the 10th Annual Learner of the Year Award from the STUC at the Scottish Union Learning Everyday Skills Conference, which took place online on 25 February 2021. The Award was presented by Wendy Burton, Director of Scottish Union Learning.

Barry was chosen as 2020 Learner of the Year for his commitment both as a learner and as an advocate for suicide prevention and mental health awareness. His learning journey began when he was elected as a workplace ULR, and subsequently Shop Steward and Health & Safety rep.

Through Scottish Union Learning, Barry has completed Health, Safety and Environment training and obtained a Gold CSCS card on two occasions within the last ten years. He has overcome numerous challenges to continue his own learning and skills development journey, including juggling the roles of workplace rep, onsite assessor and verifier, and suicide interventionist.

Barry’s learning experience has given him a great understanding of Modern Apprenticeship frameworks and the standards involved in assessing and verifying craft portfolios. He is one of a very small group of people outside the college sector with the expertise and knowledge to carry out onsite assessments of experienced workers with no or limited formal qualifications, and apprentices completing their training in Painting and Decorating.

Barry’s learning within suicide prevention and mental health has resulted in workers having access to vital support. Since beginning training in suicide prevention via his employer in December 2018, he has carried out six interventions. He has also used his networks to provide support, enabling workers from all local authority areas who were affected by the collapse of Thomas Cook to access to East Ayrshire Council’s counselling services.

Currently working with the wider union to support apprentices who have been left unemployed due to global pandemic, Barry engages with his employer through the Adopt an Apprenticeship scheme. Ultimately, Barry is supporting the objectives of the wider construction sector to ensure young apprentices become fully qualified and fulfil a career within their trade, which is increasingly important as the sector faces skills shortages.