More than 3 in 4 employers say unions make the difference on training, review finds

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More than three in four (77%) employers say union-led training programmes have a positive effect in their workplaces, according to a review published today (Friday).

The independent evaluation of union-led training and learning – by academics at Leeds University Business School and the University of Exeter – found that both bosses and staff gained from union involvement in training at work.

The review also found that:

  • Over two-thirds (68%) of employers said unions were particularly effective at inspiring reluctant learners to engage in training and development.
  • Half (47%) said their staff were more committed as a result of unions facilitating training and development opportunities.
  • Four in five (80%) employees said they had developed skills that they could transfer to a new job, while two in three (62%) said the new skills they acquired made them more effective in their current job.
  • One in five (19%) said they had gained a promotion or increased responsibility and one in 10 (11%) gained a pay rise.
  • Nearly half (46%) of non-union members that took up the union offer of training and development later joined.
  • Union-led training delivers an estimated net contribution to the economy of more than £1.4 billion as a result of a boost to jobs, wages and productivity.

Director of unionlearn Liz Rees said:

“This report shows the clear value of union-led training and learning at work, for employers as well as the workforce.

“Bosses see staff engagement, commitment and productivity rise as a result of unions making a major contribution to training and development in the workplace.

“Trade unions are the best way to get ahead at work. Thanks to the Union Learning Fund and the TUC’s unionlearn, we support more than 200,000 employees through learning and training at work every year. This is made possible by union learning reps who – day in and out – encourage colleagues to enrol.”

NOTES TO EDITORS:

The evaluation was performed by the Centre for Employment Relations, Innovation and Change at Leeds University Business School, and the Marchmont Observatory at the University of Exeter.

Key findings from the evaluation

Employers

  • Over two-thirds (68%) of employers said union involvement was particularly effective at inspiring reluctant learners.
  • Nearly half (47%) of bosses said their staff were more committed following union learning at work.
  • One in three (32%) employers said their organisational performance has increased as a result of union-led learning.
  • More than four in 10 (44%) employers said that union learning led to better relationships between managers and union reps.

Staff

  • Four in five (80%) of learners said they had gained skills that were useful in their current job.
  • Four in five (80%) said they had gained skills they could take to another role.
  • Nearly two-thirds (62%) of learners said the training they had accessed through the union was helping them do their jobs more efficiently.
  • One in five (19%) people who had taken part in union learning said they had gained a promotion or increased responsibility at work.
  • More than one in 10 (11%) gained a pay rise following union-led learning.

Economic impact

The review found that for every £1 invested in the union learning fund (ULF) – which supports union-led learning and training – there is a return of £12.70, with £7.60 of this going to the worker taking part in the training, and £4.70 going to the employer. This leads to an estimated net contribution to the economy of £1,452 million and the estimated return to the Exchequer is £3.57 for each £1 spent.

Union engagement

One in five (20%) of the 2,550 people surveyed in the review were not union members before they started their training – but almost half (46%) became a union member following their experience.

- The report was commissioned by the TUC and unionlearn, and is available at www.tuc.org.uk/sites/default/files/EvaluationULFunionlearn.docx

- The evaluation is of rounds 15 and 16 of the ULF, covering 2012/2013 to 2015/2016.

- The ULF supports union learning projects which enable workers to develop skills and achieve qualifications. It also promotes lifelong learning opportunities within the workplace. The fund has helped hundreds of thousands of workers on their learning journey with the support of over 35,000 dedicated Union Learning Reps who work voluntarily to make a real difference within their workplaces, local communities and in partnership with employers help to improve productivity within their businesses, industries and wider economy. For more information visit: www.unionlearn.org.uk/union-learning-fund

- All TUC press releases can be found at www.tuc.org.uk
- Follow the TUC on Twitter: @The_TUC and follow the TUC press team @tucnews

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