Trade Union Research Officer

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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.

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 in a way that is easily understood (both orally or in written form) is an important part of the work. Some evening and weekend work may be necessary.


Qualifications and training required


In order to become a trade union research officer, it’s normally necessary to have a degree. A good degree in any subject is acceptable, although a relevant qualification in politics or government, social or public administration, social research, law, business studies, economics or sociology can be advantageous. A postgraduate qualification in industrial relations or specialist knowledge may also be beneficial, particularly if your first degree doesn’t include the use of statistics.

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 work in a pressure group, trade union or student union.


Key skills for research officers


  • Research skills

  • Presentation skills

  • Numerical skills

  • IT skills

  • Verbal and written communication skills


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.

Career progression may be limited because of a relatively flat management structure. The majority of research officers leave the profession after a number of years, moving to careers in public relations, political lobbying, or parliamentary advice.


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