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John D'Arcy Champions Lifelong Learning and Green Skills at Irish Congress of Trade Unions Conference

John D'Arcy, the Director of The Open University in Ireland, took to the stage at the Irish Congress of Trade Unions Conference in Derry on 14 March, advocating for the transformative power of lifelong learning. Addressing a gathering of trade unionists, D’Arcy emphasised the vital link between education, employment, and sustainable living.

D’Arcy's speech, titled 'Good Jobs, Good Lives through Lifelong Learning,' resonated strongly with the audience as he underscored the importance of continuous education in enhancing job prospects and overall quality of life. He stressed that in an ever-evolving job market, individuals must embrace lifelong learning to remain competitive and adaptable.

Highlighting the pressing need to address climate change and environmental sustainability, D’Arcy made a significant announcement regarding the inclusion of green skills courses on the Irish Congress of Trade Unions learning hub on The Open University’s OpenLearn site. These courses, tailored to equip workers with essential knowledge and skills for a green economy, mark a significant step towards building a more sustainable future.

"The challenges posed by climate change require a concerted effort from all sectors of society," remarked D’Arcy. "By providing accessible and relevant green skills training, we empower workers to contribute meaningfully to environmental conservation efforts while securing their own professional advancement."

The addition of green skills courses to the learning hub reflects a strong and longstanding partnership between The Open University in Ireland and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. This collaboration has been instrumental in addressing the changing needs of the workforce and promoting lifelong learning initiatives that benefit workers across various industries.

Trade union representatives welcomed the initiative, recognising its potential to upskill workers and foster a greener, more resilient economy. "Investing in green skills is not only essential for tackling climate change but also for creating new job opportunities in emerging industries," remarked a union leader.

ICTU Assistant General Secretary Gerry Murphy welcomed the initiative and said that this followed up the launch last year of the online learning hub which has delivered accessible, high-quality learning resources to workers across Northern Ireland, regardless of their background or experience.

Since its launch in March 2023, the ICTU hub has had 544 visits and 366 unique visitors, making it one of the top performing Learning Hubs on the OpenLearn Platform

So far, the most popular types of resources used to date have been English courses, Legal/finance/accounting, and Resources for teaching.

With the New Green Skills Section added to the hub – this marks a significant step towards building a more sustainable future for workplaces, for upskilled workers and for the strong bonds between the OU and the trade union movement.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions Conference served as a platform for dialogue and collaboration, reaffirming the commitment of stakeholders to promoting lifelong learning and sustainable development. John D'Arcy's impassioned advocacy for education as a catalyst for positive change resonated strongly, igniting optimism for a future where good jobs and good lives are within reach for all through continuous learning and environmental stewardship.

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