Unions need to be a little less of the male, pale and stale
The number of people under the age of 30 who are members of a trade union has fallen significantly since 2001 even though younger people are concerned about "insecure work" and their financial position.
Figures from the Trades Union Congress provided to the BBC reveal membership levels among the under-30s have fallen from 20.1% in 2001 to 15.7% in 2017.
In the private sector, which employs more than 80% of 21 to 30-year-olds, the figure fell from 12.6% to to 9%.
Of employees of all ages, 23.2% are a member of a union, itself the lowest figures since records of the percentage figure began in 1995.
The overall membership of trade unions - at 6.9 million - is well below its peak above 13 million in the late 1970s.
The TUC report revealed that younger people were now more concentrated in lower-paid sectors such as private social care or hotels and restaurants.
On average, being a member of a union means your pay is higher - although that is often to do with the sector worked in and the size of the employer. Highly-educated young people have actually seen average earnings drop over the last 20 years.
The pay gap between younger and older workers rising by more than half in the past 20 years. Over-30s are now paid 21.9% more than under-30s, compared with 14.5% in 1998. On average, young people are earning £2.81 an hour less than older people, up from £1.51 an hour less in 1998. Older people are on average earning £5,884 a year more than younger workers, compared with £3,140 a year in 1998.
Frances O'Grady, the general secretary of the TUC, admitted the union movement had "a problem" in reaching young people. O'Grady said many young people felt they were in insecure employment in sectors such as health care or retail sales, but were not turning to the unions for support. Many employers also made it difficult for people to become a member of a union, she said. She also admitted that unions had to "earn the right" to represent people at work.
"If you think about where young people are working in hospitality or retail care industry, often on temporary or zero-hour contracts, often in franchise organisations that are hard to organise, the model that we have isn't working for them," Ms O'Grady said. "We've got to fix it, and we've got a chance, we're in the 21st Century, we can use 21st Century tools like digital to organise young people in new ways that suit them and give them what they need. What they really want is an online shop steward, an online coach, who will support them in getting the skills and the opportunities they want to make a life for themselves."
41% had put off buying or moving home because of concern about finances. Just a third believed that their job made the best use of their skills.
"What young people are telling us is that they feel stuck, they're stuck in low-paid insecure employment, they don't know how to get out or get on," Ms O'Grady said.