Do unions care about skills?
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Do unions care about skills?. Prof Mark Stuart. Do unions care about skills: unfolding evidence base. Increased research effort on unions and learning and developing evidence base Critical perspectives on: Emphasis on supply side, how to engage with demand-side

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Do unions care about skills unfolding evidence base
Do unions care about skills: unfolding evidence base

  • Increased research effort on unions and learning and developing evidence base

  • Critical perspectives on:

    • Emphasis on supply side, how to engage with demand-side

    • Focus of learning interests – employer/individual

    • Potential for union renewal?

  • Effort seen as novel, but hampered by major challenges given weak regulatory environment

  • Despite this, union efforts can make a difference


  • Effect of union learning on members
    Effect of union learning on members

    • Rapid rise of ULR network delivering new ‘service’

    • Large take-up of learning – in some cases supported by paid time-off

    • Learning centre network to support this (some novel environments, construction)

    • Evolving learning cultures

    • Latent demand for learning – and union role can encourage this further

    • But,

    • not all members benefiting

    • Proportion of ULRs inactive/ insufficient support from employers

    • Focus on lower level skills/ disconnect with working practices


    Ulrs as an organising story
    ULRs as an organising story

    • Growth of network in itself impressive – ahead of targets

    • Around third ‘new activists’

    • Potential to recruit new members

    • Examples of learning organisers

    • ULRs becoming embedded in rule books, branch structures etc

    • But:

    • Separate activity from ‘traditional’ industrial relations in many workplaces

    • Some degree of ULR uncertainty about role

    • Still some disconnect to wider organising agenda in many unions


    Sustaining and developing levers
    Sustaining and developing: levers?

    • Bargaining over learning has increased, but still low base – higher where ULRs

    • Agenda developing through learning partnerships and agreements

    • Often explicitly divorced from broader bargaining agenda, although evidence of positive spill overs.

    • Potential for influence outside the workplace – networks of local providers; Sectors Skills Council and SSA

    • Evaluation of SSA questioned ‘mechanisms for collective action’

    • Engaging employers will remain an ongoing challenge


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