NUJ does job of employers' by launching online training

The NUJ is expanding its training operation and planning to launch online courses this autumn.

Linda King, the union’s professional training manager, said the NUJ was hoping to have up to seven new courses online by next March. They will begin with a course showing journalists how best to use the internet as a research tool.

Other courses planned are online publishing, which will include how to build websites; feature writing courses for beginners and experienced journalists; writing for the web; and a course for learning representatives.

Learning reps are appointed by NUJ chapels to look at the training needs of their colleagues. New government legislation introduced in April has granted learning reps the same statutory rights as other union reps, which entitles them to time off for union work.

New classroom-based courses are also planned by the union. There is a growing demand for training on Adobe InDesign, the new page make-up program that is challenging the dominance of QuarkXPress, with one NUJ course in September already booked up. King said the union hoped to hold one InDesign course every month, and has been approached by publishing companies wanting the union to train their staff.

This is seen as something of a breakthrough for the NUJ. When the NUJ started its training courses four years ago, it approached companies offering its services but got no response. Training presents a dilemma for the union, which believes it should be the responsibility of employers.

General secretary Jeremy Dear said: “We still think employers should be providing training but they don’t. We are filling the gaps because journalists are not being trained properly by their employers. Also, freelances don’t have access to good quality training. “When we advertised our first courses in 1999 we got 3,500 applicants and realised we had tapped into something. It has grown from there.”

The NUJ was given £349,000 over two years until 2004 from the union learning fund for training and around 3,000 journalists have used its courses. The NUJ claims its charges are far lower than those of private training companies. The union’s training website also offers advice to would-be journalists about what they should look for in college courses and how to go about getting a job. Dear said: “Much of the advice out there is provided by people who have a financial interest. What we are trying to do is offer impartial advice and help people make their own decisions about courses and colleges.”

Details of the courses are on the NUJ website at www.nujtraining.org.uk.

 

By Jon Slattery

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