Trade union research officer: job description

Research officers collect information on social, political and economic issues to inform policy and help union members.

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

Trade union researchers explore issues that affect union members. Their work helps their colleagues devise policies that improve members' working lives and increase pay and benefits.

Key responsibilities of the job include:

  • gathering and analysing data
  • preparing policy or briefing papers
  • writing reports, journal articles, media releases and information for members
  • presenting information
  • compiling statistics
  • responding to inquiries from members.

Typical employers of research officers

  • Trade unions

Vacancies are advertised on individual unions' websites. They're also often advertised on the Trade Union Congress (TUC) site. Look on national and local job sites too.

Qualifications and training required

You often need a degree to become a trade union research officer because of the specialised knowledge and research skills involved in the work. For example, you may need statistical modelling experience, which is often covered in social science courses.

A postgraduate qualification in industrial relations may also be beneficial, particularly if your first degree doesn't include the use of statistics.

Relevant work experience is essential: candidates must be able to demonstrate a genuine commitment to, knowledge of and interest in the work of trade unions. You can build this through paid or voluntary work in a pressure group, trade union or student union.

Key skills for trade union research officers

Recruiters look for candidates who are committed to the union movement. Other essential skills and qualities include:

  • research skills
  • presentation skills
  • numerical skills
  • IT skills
  • the ability to learn quickly
  • excellent verbal and written communication skills.

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