New blood essential for union vigour

6th June 2008 at 01:00
Paul Mackney, former joint general secretary at the University and College Union (UCU), has an expression for a certain type of all-too- familiar figure: "male, pale and stale"

Paul Mackney, former joint general secretary at the University and College Union (UCU), has an expression for a certain type of all-too- familiar figure: "male, pale and stale".

This is the rather cheeky description of the band of middle-aged white men - whose number includes Mr Mackney, as he would be the first to admit - which dominates so many aspects of life. It was often used when talking about equality, and was not generally used in reference to the union's own rank-and-file membership.

But it may as well have been - at least as far as the "stale" bit goes. The UCU's membership survey, as we report this week, suggests that the union is struggling to attract younger lecturers into its ranks.

Many newcomers to FE have arrived from the private sector where they have not been in a union. This makes them harder to recruit than trainee schoolteachers whose lack of experience of the world of work leaves them flush with the idealism of youth. Thus, a radical approach is needed to ensure newcomers are being recruited if the union is to maintain its strength.

Membership of the Institute for Learning (IfL), the compulsory body for FE teachers, will make many feel that membership of the UCU is an unnecessary expense. Why should they join two professional bodies? This question must be answered if the union is to win over future generations.

The union has a public relations challenge on its hands to explain the difference between the IfL, a membership body which already includes all lecturers, and the UCU, which must remain close to its customers to survive.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number

Comments

The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now