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Trade union research officer: job description

Trade union research officer: job description

Research officers are employed by trade unions to assist the work of union representatives through the collection, analysis and distribution of information concerning relevant social, political and economic issues.
Relevant union/research experience is usually essential: candidates must be able to demonstrate a genuine commitment to, knowledge of and interest in the work of trade unions.

What does a trade union research officer do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Key responsibilities of the job include:

  • attending branch meetings and conferences
  • preparing presentations and policy or briefing papers
  • writing reports, journal articles, press releases, publicity leaflets, speeches etc
  • compiling statistics
  • providing advice to and liaising with union representatives
  • researching political issues
  • lobbying parliament
  • undertaking administrative tasks such as drafting agendas, organising meetings and taking minutes
  • responding to inquiries from members

Presenting information orally or in writing in a way that is easily understood is an important part of the work. Some evening and weekend work may be necessary.

Typical employers of research officers

Only a small number of vacancies occur each year, so competition is intense. Most jobs are based in London and other major towns and cities. Vacancies are advertised in national newspapers, particularly New Statesman, The Morning Star and The Tribune as well as their online equivalents. The TUC Directory lists relevant employers.

The majority of research officers leave the profession after a number of years, moving to careers in public relations, political lobbying, or parliamentary advice.

Qualifications and training required

A good degree is acceptable, although employers often require relevant qualifications in politics or government, social or public administration, social research, law, business studies, economics or sociology. A postgraduate qualification in industrial relations or specialist knowledge may also be necessary for some positions.

Relevant union/research experience is usually essential: candidates must be able to demonstrate a genuine commitment to, knowledge of and interest in the work of trade unions. This can be gained via paid or voluntary pressure group, trade union or student union work.

Key skills for research officers

  • Research skills
  • Presentation skills
  • Numerical skills
  • IT skills
  • Verbal and written communication skills
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