Highlands and Islands

Highlands and IslandsThe Highlands and Islands covers some 15,000 square miles, which is more than half of Scotland’s landmass. It includes more than 90 inhabited islands, but accounts for less than 10% of Scotland’s population.

In 2003, Scottish Union Learning established a dedicated Highlands and Islands team based in Inverness, in recognition of the unique challenges and opportunities presented by the predominantly rural, sparsely populated region of the Highlands and Islands in supporting union members in accessing learning.

A priority for the Highlands and Islands team is to encourage Union Learning Reps (ULRs) to work with union members and employers to deliver workplace learning and skills programmes specific to the region, for the benefit of individuals and the economy.

The ULR role is recognised as being the cornerstone of trade union learning. Typically, in the smaller workplaces of the Highlands and Islands, there may be only one ULR, or the ULR may cover several workplaces. Consequently, Scottish Union Learning prioritises support for this crucial role by developing and co-ordinating good practice models of cross-union working and by providing resources for unions, ULRS and learners. For example, Highlands and Islands ULRs have their own dedicated Facebook Group to stay in touch with each other.

Opportunities for support

We work with unions to increase the number of ULRs in the Highlands and Islands and to establish ULR Forums across the region, which provide opportunities for networking and support, and help sustain cross-union working.

In addition, the annual Scottish Union Learning Highlands and Islands ULR Conference brings together ULRs from across the north to share experiences of organising union learning and to learn new skills through themed workshops and discussion.

Scottish Union Learning in the Highlands and Islands works closely with local colleges, learning centres and key partners who understand the demographics of the region and share our aims to overcome the potential barriers to learning. We hold an annual Highlands and Islands Partners’ Meeting to engage with our partners and to provide an update on the work of Scottish Union Learning.

ULR Development Sessions

H&I’s network of dedicated Union Learning Reps are a foundation for our work. ULR Development Sessions are designed to support this valuable and important work. Taking take place on the last Friday of every month, ULRs themselves identify themes and invite guest speakers.

Please note that November's ULR Session has been postponed so that reps can attend the 13th Annual Scottish Union Learning Conference - Skills for Economic Recovery : The Role of Trade Unions.

Sessions in 2021 have focussed on climate change, neurodiversity, age inclusion, accessibility, menopause at work and deaf awareness.

If you would like to take part in future Development sessions or find out more about the network or the ULR role, please contact the SUL H&I Team (details below).

Upcoming Events in H&I

Pre Retirement Course Programme for 2022

Keeping your retirement plans on track can be a challenging task. These sessions encourage a positive and realistic approach to help participants make informed choices about their retirement plans. Our 2022 programme offers both remote and face-to-face sessions. Dates are :

14th January 2022 Remote 9:30am –12:00pm

4th March 2022 Remote 1:00pm - 3:30pm

7th June 2022 Inverness 9:30am - 3:30pm

9th August 2022 Thurso 9:30am - 3:30pm 13th

October 2022 Remote 1:00pm - 3:30pm

22nd November 2022 Remote 9:30am - 12:00pm

If you would like to reserve a space email Fiona


Solidarity in the Workplace : A Fair Work: Equality and Leadership Fund course - only a few places left !!!
13th, 20th & 27th January 2022. Each session will run from 6-8:30pm

This course is part of SUL’s 2021/22 Fair Work: Leadership and Equality Programme. It is a Highlands and Islands cross-union initiative and is open to reps, members and non-union members across Highlands and Islands.

The trade union movement is built on solidarity among workers in an explicit acknowledgement that we are stronger together. Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity, respect and fairness at work. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for all workers.

In light of recent events and tragedies, people more than ever want to act in solidarity with those in their lives and workplaces who are treated unfairly and particularly vulnerable to prejudice and discrimination.

On this course you will work towards the following learning outcomes:

  • To support union reps and members to explore the concepts of allyship, accompliceship and solidarity and how they apply to your role and responsibilities within your union;
  • To help you to recognise discrimination and oppression and feel more confident in challenging it;
  • To develop practical skills to act in solidarity with other workers as well as personal reflection to support further development and learning.

If you would like to reserve a space or receive more information contact Craig Finnie


Introduction to visual impairment and making documents accessible training in H&I : Nov 4th, 2021

SUL’s H&I ULR network came together a few weeks ago to take part in this excellent piece of training. It came about after Natasha Johnston from Visibility Scotland attended our monthly ULR development sessions which have been running on the last Friday of every month throughout 2021.

The first part of the 2-hour session looked at

  • What a visual impairment is, and
  • How visual impairments affect individuals day-to-day lives

Part two was concerned with how to make documents, emails and presentations more accessible in a practical sense. Areas covered included :

  • alignment, font and spacing to ensure Word documents are easier to read
  • layout and structure of documents, emails and presentations
  • understanding the Heading Styles function on Word
  • how to use Alt Text effectively so that screen readers and assistive technology can function for their users.
  • how to create descriptive hyperlinks

In addition, Natasha, provided us with useful resources and links to reinforce our learning. The feedback from all who participated was very positive and we are grateful to Natasha and Visibility Scotland for this excellent session which was provided free through funding from the Scottish Government

If you would like to find out more about these sessions for your own members or workplaces you can email Craig

Highlands & Islands Team

Craig Finnie, Development Officer - email Craig

Fiona Cormack, Admin and Funding Assistant - email Fiona

Scottish Union Learning
UNISON Building
53 Shore Street

Tel: 01463 248905