Shaping the Future

This Thursday, UNISON will release the detailed findings of a significant new piece of research into the learning needs, the hopes and fears of workers in the public services.

The University of Exeter’s Marchmont Observatory carried out the research on behalf of UNISON, with a survey sent to members over the winter of 2018/19. Over 38,000 responded, making it the biggest of its kind, and beating our own record of 27,000 by a long way.

Last week, UNISON learning reps gathered to hear about the findings and discuss how branches could use them to push the union’s learning agenda forward.

The full report will be published on Thursday, but here are some of the headline facts:

  • The majority (84%) of respondents had observed at least one form of workplace change during the last 3 years
  • 45% had seen reductions in the number of people doing the same work as them and 22% reported redundancies within their workplace.
  • Around one-third (34%) of members felt that it was ‘very likely’ or ‘somewhat likely’ that their position would be made redundant in the next three years.
  • Almost three-fifths (57%) felt that ‘technological automation is putting public sector jobs at risk’.
  • The vast majority of UNISON members are recent learners with four-in five (79%) participating in some form of learning during the last 12 months.
  • Training most commonly for work or career (70%) rather than private or personal reasons.
  • While ‘attending training away from your work station’ was the most common method of accessing training (66%), more than half recent learners had accessed an ‘online training course’.

Encouragingly, the survey reveals very positive attitudes to training among UNISON members with more than four-fifths claiming that ‘learning is important to my self-esteem’ and they were ‘ready to learn new skills to remain employable in the future’. The evidence suggest that UNISON members are more willing to learn new skills than the UK workforce as a whole given evidence from similar studies elsewhere.