Unite’s inaugural Future Leaders Project (FLP) in Wales has earned rave reviews from the first cohort of participants, with 70% successfully completing the course.
The FLP course provides upskilling opportunities geared towards supporting members from under-represented groups such as Women, BAEM, people with a disability and others, who are looking at gaining new skills becoming more involved in the Union and even striving to be considered for other leadership roles.
A combination of tailored one-to-one tutorials and group sessions were delivered by Unite tutors on Zoom and provided an important overview of Unite and included tutorials on Leadership in Action, Influencing Others and Presentation Skills. Occasional sessions included guest speakers who would share their similar experiences. Participants then take the acquired knowledge and confidence forward into their working environments helping members to reach their potential.
Unite Women’s Officer Joanne Galazka said: “The FLP course is about being proactive, and developing potential leaders offering a platform to further develop their skillsets. “
“Our guest speakers include National Officers who have gone through the same process of applying for similar opportunities that the current cohort aspires to. This helps participants to better understand the structure of Unite and emphasise their existing skills. We ensure that when opportunities within the Union arise these roles are accessible to all.”
Jos Andrews said: “Participants said hearing the experiences and making them relatable was very powerful and made them seem more achievable. Having Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford at our ceremony recently was emotional for some members of the group.”
“We start by building participants’ confidence and discovering their strengths. We demonstrate situations where they can use their existing skills positively within the Union. By working closely with them we can help a person to address a specific skill gap they may need to develop. We encourage participants to gain these skills to not only help others but firstly for themselves and to help overcome barriers.”
Participants are provided with exciting opportunities to hone their skills and build confidence. The last year has marked great achievements for the group. Candidates have presented at the BBC and the Wales TUC Conference. Moreover, two candidates were elected to the General Council of the Wales TUC while on the course. Another participant spoke at Policy Conference in Liverpool about an organising strategy for BAEM workers.
In addition to skills gained, participants are also encouraged to get involved in attending events such as chairing Unite’s conference events to further their development.
In a short time, the FLP cohort has maintained a support network between themselves and the tutors.
Regional Education Officer Glyn Conolly said: “The FLP is not just a course, it’s about creating a strong relationship between not only ourselves but also with the other participants. The WhatsApp group is a great tool for keeping them together. Although this cohort has finished, we intend to keep the group together and will continue to work with them, its ongoing development. We want this to be just the start of their journey with us. Many of the participants have already said they will return to speak to future cohorts.
“From our perspective, it is very rewarding to see new activists develop over the year into potential leaders for the Union. It is great to see.”
“What really resonated for me was that we all suffered ‘Imposter Syndrome’ - for one reason or another we felt we weren’t good enough for promotion. This course changed that and gave me excellent practical advice – as a woman in a man’s union world – to position myself to apply for specific union roles. These sessions gave us the opportunity to trust our instincts and to trust and believe in ourselves. I found the awards day very emotional. I was saying goodbye, hopefully temporarily, to colleagues who had been collaborative and encouraging throughout. This had not been a competition but rather a collective journey to find out the qualities we needed to become leaders. I left the Unite building feeling optimistic, driven and determined and I have this FLP course to thank for that.”
“This course has shown me I can do so much more than I ever thought. Preparing short speeches and taking questions wasn’t easy at the beginning but I did it. It was a great confidence booster and I was encouraged every step of the way. I really appreciated the extra sessions that were given on a one-to-one basis. I had a chance to talk through my fears and hopes. “