Success for Staff Learning Centre

The Veolia/UNITE Learning Centre has been named regional winner at the Adult Learners’ Week Awards

Veolia's partnership with the UNITE union in Haringey

The Veolia/UNITE Learning Centre has been working with Haringey Council to provide street cleansing, recycling and waste services for residents. The secret to the company’s success is making its staff feel valued through diverse training opportunities. Their remarkable learning achievements have been recognised with a European Social Fund (ESF) Project Award in London and the South East as part of Adult Learners’ Week, 13 – 19 June.

Veolia’s partnership with UNITE the Union and other external training providers to create The Veolia\UNITE Learning Centre has significantly enhanced staff morale and retention. Whether operatives or drivers, they are given the chance to train to progress and develop themselves and apply for managerial and supervisory positions.

All courses are uniquely tailored to individuals and equip them with a range of skills to meet Haringey residents’ needs. Many have now passed Level 2 in Customer Service with IT and Team Leading and are more confident about applying for higher positions within the company.

The ESF programme contributes to sustainable economic growth and social inclusion by extending employment opportunities and by developing a skilled and adaptable workforce. The programme supports EU, national and regional strategies to tackle employment and skills challenges. Amongst the priorities for this funding are improving the employability and skills of lone parents, people aged 50 and over, people from ethnic minority groups, and people with no or low qualifications - areas Veolia is keen to prioritise. The funding enables learners to achieve their first full Level 2 qualification. 

Driver Andrew Elliott believes The Learning Centre has given him a better understanding of Haringey society and improved his communication skills with IT. The courses have inspired him to seek out more challenges linked to his existing IT skills, attention to detail, and love of the environment. Previously having gone straight into work from school and being out of education for 30 years, he now feels his talents would befit the position of supervisor.

Services Support Manager Terry Eleftheriou said: “Why cannot staff train to be managers and supervisors? Why cannot operatives and drivers apply for senior positions? We wanted to push the training that little bit further than usual. We wanted to give the staff the confidence and belief to aim higher.”

David Hughes, NIACE Chief Executive, said: “The outstanding achievements of this year’s winners go to show the incredible impact that education can make at all stages of a person’s life. All of them have achieved tremendous things and I am sure that their enthusiasm and drive will act as real inspiration to future adult learners.”

"I am pleased that the European Social Fund is again supporting Adult Learners’ Week", said Angus Gray, Head of ESF Division at the Department for Work and Pensions. The stories of winners, like Veolia, show what can be achieved and will undoubtedly inspire even more people to engage in learning.”

Adult Learners’ Week (13-19 June) celebrates the transformational power of lifelong learning through activities and events. Run by NIACE as part of the Festival of Learning, Adult Learners’ Week demonstrates the dynamic personal, social and professional benefits of adult learning. The Festival of Learning, which takes place throughout May and June, will give individuals, families, communities and workplaces the opportunity to take part in activities and celebrate learning achievements. 

The theme of this year’s Festival of Learning is #lovetolearn to capture the fun and rewarding nature of learning a new skill. Share what you ‘love to learn’ on Twitter using the Festival of Learning hashtag #lovetolearn.

To find out more about what is happening and how you can get involved, please visit

For more information, interviews, images and case studies please contact Hannah Mackenzie, Frances Church or Sian Blackmore at Four Colman Getty on +44 (0)20 3697 4200 / 07592 791 908 /[email protected]  / [email protected]   / [email protected]

NIACE is the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education, the national voice for lifelong learning.  We are a large, internationally respected development organisation and think-tank, working on issues central to the economic renewal of the UK, particularly in the political economy, education and learning, public policy and regeneration fields.

Adult Learners’ Week
NIACE’s Adult Learners’ Week (13-19 June) demonstrates the dynamic personal, social and professional benefits of adult learning through a range of celebrations, activities and events across the country.

Adult Learners’ Week is backed by hundreds of supporters, partners and funders including the European Social Fund (ESF), Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, BBC, Edge Foundation and NOCN. The Festival of Learning throughout May and June will give individuals, families, communities and workplaces the opportunity to take part in activities and celebrate learning achievements.

European Social Fund
Adult Learners’ Week is part-funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) to help promote ESF activities and successes. The European Social Fund is investing over £2.5 billion in England in the 2007-2013 programme, which continues until 2015. Priority groups for support include young people not in education, employment or training, families with multiple problems, offenders and people with low skill levels.

In 2014-2020 the England ESF programme will:

  • help young people, jobseekers and inactive people access employment;
  • tackle barriers to work faced by disadvantaged people; and
  • invest in education, skills and lifelong learning.