Presentation Details

The Fourth International Conference on Knowledge, Culture and Change in Organisations

Electronic routes to change?: A survey of website support for trade union learning representatives

Dr William.J. Lee, Prof C Cassell.

This paper examines the information provided by trade union websites to support the activities of learning representatives. A recent innovation within the United Kingdom has been the provision of statutory rights for Trade Unions Learning Representatives who now have a legal right to time off during working hours to conduct their activities. The key functions of these learning representatives are to promote learning generally in the workplace; to identify those with learning and skills needs; to support individual learners; and to provide a first port of call with advice on all aspects of the learning process. It is evident that there is the potential for learning representatives to have a key role as change agents within the organization in which they are employed by enhancing the learning and development process. Learning representatives are, however, lay officials. Their effectiveness is likely to be dependent on the amount of support provided by their trade union’s central organization. The paper focuses on the extent to which support is provided electronically for learning representatives through trade union websites. An initial reading of the websites of six unions led to the creation of an analytic grid that categorised information under a number of categories including the accessibility of the site and the quality of the information given. Of the 69 unions affiliated to the Trade Union Congress, 56 had website addresses. These websites were then analysed against the categories generated. The findings suggest that there is considerable diversity in the quality of information provided for learning representatives. Explanations for this diversity are offered.


Dr William.J. Lee  (United Kingdom)

University of Sheffield

Prof C Cassell  (United Kingdom)

University of Sheffield

  • Trade unions
  • Learning representatives
  • Websites
  • Change agents

(Virtual Presentation, English)