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Skills Reps

Welcome to TSSA Skills Reps

TSSA recognises the valuable role that learning and training can play when part of a collective union driven approach upskilling and re-skilling the whole workforce. This is particularly important when the industry is in the process of changing, because of Covid and significant technology changes such as digital rail and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

At TSSA we are changing how we talk about Union Learning Reps. TSSA’s aim is to re-package the Union Learning Rep position into a more suitable Skills Rep so that activists are better equipped to challenge employers on the training they offer, but also look at the industry-wide skills shortage and how this affects recruitment, new projects, apprenticeships and upskilling or re-skilling staff. It won't happen all at once so please bear with us as we update information on the webite. If our materials give details for ULRs they are still valid and ULRs are still representing members in workplaces.

We know that trade unions have always been at the forefront of campaigning around, and setting up, educational opportunities for working people; enriching their lives and developing their confidence. We are proud to carry on this tradition today as an integral part of our active organising union.

To get involved sign up to TSSA's Skills Reps Community of Practice and receive regular information. There is a discussion forum Skills Network meeting once a month, you will find information about the next meeting on that page. 


TSSA's Skills Strategy

TSSA Learning is the overall union learning strategy in our Association as well as the overarching name we use for the resources and lay activists involved in learning and organising.

TSSA's Skills Reps

TSSA supports elected Skills Reps - also known as Union Learning Representatives [ULRs], alongside other company union reps, in their campaigns to:

  • Attract new members through our reps leading discussions & campaigns at the workplace on equal access to skills training and [employer] training opportunities.
  • Encourage more members to get involved as TSSA Skills Reps negotiating and co-ordinating professional & personal development opportunities at all levels including around career advice and progression.
  • Develop members’ confidence and job security at work through updating and adding to their skills & knowledge.
  • Introduce collective agreements with employers on study and learning opportunities.
  • Set up quality apprenticeship programmes with full union involvement.

What exactly are Skills Reps?

TSSA’s Skills Reps, also known as ULRs are elected following the processes used for all reps in their company. They are expected to work collectively with other TSSA reps in the company not only to promote and distribute learning and skills initiatives but also to support wider TSSA activities. We also encourage Skills Reps to attend Branch meetings and give their reports as regular agenda items. Find out more about becoming a Skills Rep here:

  The role of the ULR

Our senior activists - Lead Skills Reps

In employers where we have signed a learning Agreement we seek to negotiate additional release for a TSSA Lead Skills Rep, also known as Lead ULR. Their job is to

  • Lead on specific initiatives covering more than one geographical / business area
  • Co-ordinate, mentor and support the TSSA local Skills reps and activity around learning and skills
  • Act as a central point of contact for the employer including on notification of:
    • Skills Reps election/appointment & withdrawal, training status and release
    • Co-ordinate, chair & service regular Skills or Learning Forums
    • Attend joint Learning Steering Committees with the employer, and act as its Chair / Secretary as agreed, to negotiate learning opportunities for employees within the bargaining agenda in the areas of learning and employer provided vocational training and development plans.


To find out more about TSSA's Skills agenda or Skills Reps/ULRs in your company, contact the TSSA team on  or via Kerry Abel or join the Skills Reps Community of Practice




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