Negotiation and representation at work
A UNISON case study

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Page 5: Benefits to members

An apprenticeship provides a young person with the skills and support for them to take the first steps in building a career.

It is particularly important that young apprentices are provided with the right sort of support and protection. Unions like UNISON are important because they make sure that the schemes are relevant to the needs of the trainee as well as the employer.

UNISON is able to collect first-hand information from members and apprentice members. Through negotiation, UNISON branches make sure that the following conditions are in place to create an apprenticeship with achievable goals:

  • Clear arrangements with one or more colleges that offer the required apprenticeship qualification.
  • Programmes for recruiting candidates as widely as possible. This often involves providing pre-apprenticeship work placements.
  • Structured procedures for recruitment, selection and placement of apprentices in appropriate posts, making sure that the process fits with equality guidelines.
  • Well-organised supervision of apprentices and checks on their progress. Each trainee should have a mentor and a line manager who track their progress, oversee their work. and help them learn. Staff who take on this role are entitled to extra training, pay and time off in recognition of their additional responsibilities.
  • Provision for apprentices to have study time, either at college or away from work to complete their NVQ work. This feedback provides a base on which to negotiate appropriate terms and conditions of apprenticeship schemes. New apprentices can get support from different sources.

Being accepted on to an apprenticeship scheme therefore provides new employees with a first class entry route into the world of work. UNISON works to ensure that such schemes:

  • support the career needs of the individual employee
  • provide them with a fair wage while training
  • do not replace existing jobs
  • launch them on a career path
  • provide detailed coverage of employment rights.

UNISON actively encourages apprentices to seek further help. To support apprentices in the workplace, UNISON has provided a special membership fee of only £10 a year.

UNISON | Negotiation and representation at work