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Unions in UK – Members were a third more likely to have received training than non-unionised employees

The research shows that over the period 2001–2013 union members were a third more likely to have received training than non-unionised employees. The analysis isolates the union impact using regression analysis which controls for a variety of other factors (e.g. age, gender, occupation, sector etc.) and concludes that union members were 1.34 times more likely to have accessed job-related training in the previous three months than non-unionised employees.

The longitudinal data also show that the union ‘mark-up’ for training was at its strongest in 2013, peaking at 16 per cent. This is explained by 38.9 per cent of union members saying that they accessed job- related training in that particular year compared to 22.9 per cent of non-unionised employees saying likewise.

The union ‘mark-up’ has also grown strongly since the recession, increasing from 13.4 per cent in 2008 to 16.0 per cent in 2013 and this trend is explained by two factors. First, access to job-related training among union members has bounced back in recent years with 38.9 per cent of union members answering positively in 2013 compared to 36.8 per cent in 2008. However, the opposite trend is evident among non-unionised employees, with 22.9 per cent of union members answering positively in 2013 compared to 23.4 per cent in 2008.
Even if an individual is not a union member they benefit from the union training ‘mark-up’ simply by working in an organisation where there is a union presence. For example, the analysis also looked at the circumstances of individuals who said that unions had collective bargaining rights in their workplace and in 2013, 38 per cent of them reported a recent training period compared to a quarter of employees in workplaces where unions did not have negotiating rights.

In-depth analysis of the 2011 Workplace Employment Relations Survey provides a more detailed picture. This shows that three specific aspects of union presence – union recognition, union negotiation
and consultation over training, and the existence of ULRs – are all associated with higher levels of training received by employees. By higher levels we mean more than five days of training per year.

In conclusion, the research reveals a number of positive results for the union effect on training and how this effect may impact wider organisational outcomes. The research evidences that where employees are represented by unions, and where those unions are involved in workplace training decisions, individuals are likely to receive higher levels of training, higher wages and more job security. The business case for close collaboration between employers and unions on workforce training is also supported by the research, in particular in the period following the economic recession.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at Research paper 21: Skills and training: the union advantage | unionlearn

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