Skills utilisation is a policy term that refers to “the use of skills” in the workplace. In recent years there has been an increasing awareness among policy makers that greater consideration needs to be given by employers and unions to making the best use of existing or newly acquired skills. In order to ensure that workforce skills are being effectively utilised, negotiations on skills by employers and unions need to be integrated with discussions on related workplace issues, especially job design and wider working practices (e.g. team working). Such an approach is proven to deliver clear benefits for employers (e.g. improvements in organisational performance and productivity) and also for employees (e.g. improvements in job satisfaction, career progression and, in some circumstances, pay).
Unionlearn has undertaken a number of initiatives to support unions to adopt an approach that promotes skills utilisation. A recent report – Making Skills Work – includes a number of case studies demonstrating how unions have worked with employers to maximise the use of skills to the benefit of both sides. These case studies have provided the basis for a guide for union reps – Making the Most of Skills – which provides practical tips on adopting such an approach. Unionlearn has also commissioned Professor Francis Green of the Institute of Education to undertake a study – Unions and Skills Utilisation – which looks at the potential for unions to increase the role that they could play in supporting better application of skills in the workplace as well as examining the wider policy perspective.
The STUC has also undertaken a project looking at the role of trade unions in promoting skills utilisation and further information about this is available at: www.scottishunionlearning.com/support/skills-utilisation-project