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Unite members look to manufacturing, health and education for the jobs of tomorrow, says new research

Unite members seeking employment opportunities in the post-Brexit, post-Covid economy will be strongly considering moving into engineering and manufacturing, as well as health and education, new research has revealed.

The research carried out by Unite the union and, which joined up to bring additional learning opportunities to Unite members, reveals a desire to change career sectors in over half of the nearly 2,000 Unite’s members surveyed.

The three top industries they are considering moving to are: engineering, manufacturing and servicing; health; and education.

The survey covered Unite members in the North East, North West, the Midlands and South West.

Unite said that it was heartening that its members were considering future opportunities in both key private and public sectors that will need skilled recruits as the UK bounces back from the buffeting the economy has suffered due to the pandemic and also the adjustments needed in the post-Brexit trading world.

The research showed that over halfof respondents (57 per cent) choose ‘personal development’ as their strongest motivation for doing an online course now. The second highest motivation was almost the 45 per cent who said they planned to use an online course to reskill to make themselvesmore employable and/or get a new job.

A total of 21 per cent identified upskilling to get a pay rise or promotion as motivation to do an online course, while almost 13 per cent stated they would do an online course to reskill to avoid possible redundancy.

While those surveyed were able to identify strong reasons for doing an online course in the future, over half (51 per cent) reported that they haven’t done an online course in years.

Susannah Belcher, Chief Operating Officer at FutureLearn, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has hugely impacted the world of work, with UK unemployment on the rise and uncertainty over the future continuing to create day to day challenges for many businesses and staff. 

“At FutureLearn we know that access to quality education products is key for many people to add to their CVs and be able to think about reskilling and switching roles. As a company that’s dedicated to transforming access to education, it’s so important for us to partner with like-minded organisations that are equally passionate about making skills development opportunities more widely available. 

“That’s why, alongside Unite the union, we hope to help more individuals as they continue to build a better tomorrow for themselves and the economy.”

Unite director of education Jim Mowatt said: “The pandemic has wrought havoc to the jobs market and brought massive employment insecurity to millions of our fellow citizens.

“But what the national emergency has also shown is a sense of hope for the future – that our members want to obtain the necessary skills to take advantages of the opportunities once the economy gets back onto its feet.

“What again is heartening is the sectors that our members are looking at for the jobs of tomorrow. It is manufacturing and engineering – the lifeblood for our exports, but also public service, health and education. This is a balanced approach for a broad-based economy.”


Notes to editors:

The survey was conducted online to Unite members who received an email with the survey in December 2020. 1,868 Unite members filled in the survey and were aged between 18-55 from all ethnic backgrounds and were based in the North East, North West, Midlands and the South West.

About FutureLearn

Here at FutureLearn our purpose is to transform access to education. We do that by partnering with over a quarter of the world’s top universities to support millions of learners across the globe to develop skills and achieve their personal and professional goals. We’re a leading social learning platform founded in December 2012 by The Open University and are now jointly owned by The Open University in the UK and The SEEK Group.

We use design, technology and partnerships to create enjoyable, credible and flexible short online courses and microcredentials, as well as undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. In addition to top universities, we also partner with leading organisations such as Accenture, the British Council, CIPD, Raspberry Pi and Health Education England (HEE), as well as being involved in government-backed initiatives to address skills gaps such as The Institute of Coding and the National Centre for Computing Education.

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For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on:  020 3371 2065.

Please note the numbers above are for journalists’ enquiries only.


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Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.

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