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Freelance union learning advisor

What is a freelance union learning advisor?

Freelance union learning advisors (FLAs) play a crucial role in helping to bring learning and career development opportunities to freelance NUJ members.

Like staffers, freelances need to adapt their skills and acquire new skills to meet changes in demand. However, freelances also face several additional challenges, such as the cost of training and accessing relevant information, to keep up with the skills that they need to ensure work continuity in the short- and long-term.

In 2007/08, the NUJ led a research project that looked into learning challenges for freelances. This resulted in a clearer understanding of how to help both freelance learning advisors and members access the most appropriate learning opportunities. (For more information download the Federation of Entertainment Unions handbook for freelances).

FLAs are helping to make a real difference to the development and provision of learning opportunities.

Examples of FLA involvement might include:

  • Analysing and assessing learning or training needs of freelance members, including those related to industry skills as well as those that are necessary to run a business such as communication skills and financial management.
  • Analysing and assessing learning interests that are not directly related to employment.
  • Providing information and advice about learning or training matters and signposting members to learning and training facilities.
  • Arranging learning and training, including working with the NUJ training department and other skills providers to organise relevant and easily accessible training opportunities.
  • Raising awareness of the need for skills development and the opportunities available, for example, via freelance events, meetings and email.
  • Learning from best practice regionally and nationally by, for example, attending local and national ULR forums, workshops and conferences.

Why we need freelance union learning advisors

FLAs play an essential part in helping to create and support learning opportunities and skills development for our freelance members.

We need freelance ULAs to help:

  • keep our members informed of skill changes in the industry
  • raise awareness of the need for skills development
  • ensure that members are as fully equipped with as many skills as possible
  • help provide Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG)
  • feed information and advice back to the NUJ about trends, developments and changing requirements.

While some freelance members already participate in learning, there are many who would benefit from learning opportunities, such as training courses and workshops, if they could gain access to them.

The NUJ is continuing to make significant progress in improving skills development opportunities for freelance members. With the help of our freelance learning advisors, we are playing a vital role in promoting and providing lifelong learning.

Why become a freelance union learning advisor?

There are many excellent reasons to get active where learning is concerned. You should consider becoming a freelance learning advisor if:

  • you are interested in your own skills and career development as well as that of other freelance members
  • you want to influence the provision and quality of freelance training
  • you want to be a part of the drive towards real career development and training
  • you would like to learn more about skills development and how to access opportunities
  • you would like new ways to network with other union members
  • you want to become more involved with NUJ activity.

Promoting and facilitating learning opportunities is a key element of the NUJ's strategy to support and assist its members.

The NUJ training department has already helped many freelance members to acquire new skills. With the help of our learning advisors, we can continue to make a real difference to our freelance members career and personal development.

Getting started

If you want to become a freelance ULA, you'll get the right training and plenty of on-going support.

Comprehensive training

The first thing we will do is to train you. Through our links with the TUC, we have specifically designed an NUJ Freelance Learning Advisor course.

The course consists of a one-day introductory workshop, which, as well as running through course content, allows would-be learning advisors to network with other members.

The workshop is followed by several on-line modules, which participants can complete at their own convenience and pace (tutor and chat room support is provided).

Each course is held on demand in our London head office and throughout the UK. If you would like to train to be a freelance learning advisors, please use the contact details below to find out more.

On-going tuition

Once you've completed the initial training, we'll provide you with more training depending on your needs, for example, we run learning advisors workshops in negotiation and mapping.

The NUJ also provides you with information, advice and guidance (IAG) on an on-going basis.

Events and networking

Once you have completed the basic level of training, you will be invited to Union Learning Rep (another term for Union Learning Advisors) events and on-line forums via this website.

Branch meetings and committees

Trainers attend branch meetings and committees throughout the UK to provide information and advice and raise awareness on the need for lifelong learning.

Sessions are tailored to audience needs and vary from brief 15-minute Q & A slots to more comprehensive presentations.


The NUJ is on hand to answer questions, provide support and offer more specialist advice.

Workshops for freelance union learning advisors

We tailor training to the needs of our FLAs. Our research shows that people require varied methods of learning depending on a number of factors from individual learning preference to convenience.

This is why we run a blended learning programme for learning advisors, which includes a range of workshops. These provide participants with the opportunity to work through practical situations that arise as part of the learning advisor role and have their questions answered on the spot.

The workshops also act as a useful networking forum for freelance members to meet and discuss ideas, work opportunities and skills development issues.

Once induction training is completed, learning advisors can also attend a range of workshops on topical issues from education to industry change.

If you would like to attend a workshop or find out more about the role of an NUJ FLA, contact NUJ Training