The TUC Trade Union Education Centre at Shrewsbury offers a full range of courses for Trade Union Representatives and full-time officials and bespoke courses for TUC affiliates.

These are FREE courses available to all Trade Union representatives and officials, in line with the TUC’s Lifelong Learning Strategy. As well as offering high-quality TUC courses, the centre works closely with individual Unions delivering specialist courses.

Trade Union Education with us is varied, accessible and rewarding. Training involves practical activities and working with groups of other union members and activists. You don’t have to listen to long lectures or take exams. It gives you a chance to step back from your job and your activist work to think and learn. Skills development and confidence building are important elements of all Trade Union courses. You’ll be surprised at what you learn on a TUC course!

All the Reps’ courses are accredited via the Open College Network (OCN).
Please get in touch with us for the latest course start dates. The standard TUC Stage 1 and 2 union and safety representative courses are delivered one day a week during term time as follows:

Union Representatives Stage 1

This 10-week course is aimed at new union representatives. It will help you develop the skills to be an effective rep. This course will cover:

  • The job of the union rep
  • Building union membership
  • Making the union work
  • Using and making agreements
  • Representing members
  • Grievance and discipline
  • Your rights and negotiating at work
  • Equal Opportunities at work
  • Developing your skills and confidence

Certificate in Employment Law (Stage 2)

The course is designed for union reps who have already completed the TUC Stage 1 Union Reps course, or their own union equivalent. It is a practical training course, which approaches the law from a workplace perspective. The main focus is to build knowledge and confidence in using employment law to represent members and improve workplace bargaining. The course will develop your ability to use the law in representational, organising and collective bargaining situations.

Diploma in Employment Law (Stage 2)

The diploma is a natural progression for those completing the Employment Law Certificate. This 36-week course runs on Wednesdays and provides guided learning to enable the learner to become more effective as a workplace representative.

The course includes the following subject modules:

  • The Changing Nature of Law
  • Employment Law and the Individual
  • Trade Unions and Collective Rights.

The course promotes an understanding of the Trade Union approach to employment law, and extends the capacities of reps enabling them to access full-time officer posts or Higher Education opportunities. It widens and deepens understanding of trade union and workplace issues and contemporary developments in the law as well as developing writing and research study skills.

Health & Safety Representatives Stage 1

This 10-week course is aimed at new safety reps and focuses on four key areas:

  • The role and functions of a Trade Union health and safety representative
  • Organising for health and safety
  • Preventing accidents and ill-health
  • Key skills for a Trade Union health and safety representative.

Health & Safety Representatives Stage 2

This 10-week course focuses on further developing confidence, experience, knowledge, and skills by:

  • Identifying, preventing, and controlling risks to build a safer and healthier workplace
  • Involving members more in health and safety issues and developing a collective approach to health and safety
  • Ensuring that an equal opportunities approach to health and safety at work is adopted
  • Finding out information about the law and using it more effectively
  • Keeping up to date on health and safety law and information
  • Getting things done and effecting changes in health and safety in the workplace

Diploma in Occupational Health & Safety

The diploma is a natural progression for those completing the Stage 2 course. On this 36-week course, you’ll develop an understanding of health and safety principles and practice and extends your knowledge, enabling you to access full-time officer posts and Higher Education.

Subject units include:

  • Occupational Health, Safety, Welfare & the Environment
  • Occupational Health & Safety Organisation
  • Occupational Health & Safety Law.

The study skills units include:

  • Communication, ICT, and study skills
  • Working with statistics
  • Research project

The right to time off for training as a representative

Representatives of independent Trade Unions, recognised by their employer, are entitled to reasonable paid time off to take part in education and training. The main features of the law are:

  • The union must be recognised by the employer for the purpose of collective bargaining
  • The training must be approved by your union or the TUC
  • The training must be relevant to your duties as a rep
  • If time off is unreasonably refused, or your employer does not pay you, then you can complain to an employment tribunal.

Union safety representatives are entitled to training that must be “reasonable in all the circumstances”. Recent court and tribunal cases have ruled this must be interpreted widely as meaning the training is helpful to the safety representative in carrying out their duties and should not be restricted to workplace issues.

Applying for TUC courses

Trade Union Studies delivers courses face-to-face at the following venues.

  • Shrewsbury Colleges Group, London Road Campus, Shrewsbury, SY2 6PR
  • GMB Offices (formerly Unity the Union), Hillcrest House, Garth St, Hanley, Stoke on Trent ST1 2AB

We also deliver some of our courses online, using Zoom to replicate an online classroom.

To find the dates of the current courses being run by Trade Union Studies for the TUC and to apply for these courses please visit

Bespoke courses

We also deliver bespoke courses for unions and union branches. For more details please contact:

Steve French
Programme Lead – Trade Union Studies
Shrewsbury Colleges Group
London Road Campus
Shrewsbury SY2 6PR
Telephone: 07792 039825
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Trade Union Studies also oversee a functional skills team that works with unionised employers and individual union members to deliver free and accredited English and Maths tuition. Further details of these courses are available here