Train time

THE NUJ is now one of the largest providers of professional training in the UK, Chris Wheal told the June London Freelance Branch meeting. Ten years after LFB itself launched an ambitious training programme, the NUJ itself is expanding its offering to include one- or two-day courses in database skills, picture research, presenting yourself, dealing with tax, designing a business plan, and copyright. And it's just had a grant to buy a mobile training suite with laptops.

The union is also once more engaged in evaluating academic courses and commercial short courses. It will not be accrediting any itself, but will be involved in the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) and other Training Councils' processes, making sure that the courses properly cover ethics, the Code of Conduct, and reporting of minority groups.

"To give a journalistic analysis rather than a factual one," Chris reported to laughter, "there's a breakaway from the NCTJ": some universities are unhappy at the NCTJ's charges. The NUJ is trying to bring all the accrediting bodies together.

In the workplace, new legislation gives Union Learning Representatives the same rights as Health and Safety representatives. They can claim paid time off work and office facilities, but only in workplaces where the union is recognised. The NUJ will be approaching an educational publisher, which "can hardly refuse..."

For the future, the scheme is looking beyond journalistic skills to areas like assertiveness training and management training for people appointed because of their journalism. Members asked about courses in the Quark rival Indesign, the Linux operating system, photo cataloguing software such as Fotostation and courses at varied times of the week. All will be considered.

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