Many young people have a poor experience of work – certainly compared to the expectations of their parents when they started out in the labour market. Young workers are more likely than older workers to be poorly paid, work part time or be unemployed or underemployed. This partly reflects the fact that the vast majority of young workers (88 per cent) are employed in the private sector, and within that, primarily in hospitality and retail, as well as in smaller workplaces.
The key way to improve the experience of work for young workers is to increase union influence, grow trade union membership, density and the coverage of collective bargaining. The TUC’s new Reaching Young Workers initiative, launched last year and continuing in 2016–17, aims to raise the profile and appeal of trade unionism amongst young people, and make sure that trade unionism works for young people.
In the coming year, we will launch a range of high-profile campaigns about workplace issues that matter to young people. We will signpost young workers to help with the problems they face at work, to show that trade unions understand young people’s concerns. We will work with unions to develop and test a set of new models of collective organisation that are attractive for young workers, scaling up those which show promise. We will build organising capacity amongst the next generation of union reps, enhance the involvement of young people in the TUC and showcase the work that unions are doing to recruit young members. And we will work with member unions to deliver a step change in unions’ digital communications, to help unions meet members’ expectations and be fit for the future.