June 20, 2024

Advancing Corporate Yields

Pioneering Business Success

Providing employability skills for life

A group of people looking at papers on a board

There’s no such thing as a job for life in today’s world. Automation continues to advance in manufacturing, and people in all industries are having to learn new skills as technologies, the economy and jobs evolve. It’s a theme that was echoed at our first Future of Work Summit, where participants highlighted the irreversible momentum driving change in working practices and the impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

But the future of work is much more than just the relationship between technology and humans. It’s about completely new ways of working, the need for belonging, and about creating value – for the individual as well as the organisation.

So it’s more important than ever to have a plan for the future and the skills to match. We’re committed to helping our people equip themselves to pursue their idea of meaningful work in an ever-changing world.

50%Of the global workforce will need to reskill by 2025 (World Economic Forum)

The idea of continuing to learn to stay fit for the future is at the heart of Unilever. The core belief underpinning our approach is that people with purpose thrive. And to ensure they do thrive, we have a duty to help our people adapt to the impact of evolving technologies and ways of working. But this isn’t something we’re doing to people – we’re doing it with them by working closely with individuals and with employee and union representatives to find solutions that work for everyone, not just for our business.

Reskilling for the future

We’re aiming to reskill or upskill our employees with future-fit skills. We’re doing this by supporting them to proactively develop an individual Future-Fit Plan. The Future-fit Plan is a development framework that supports employees in building skills in line with their purpose, wellbeing and leadership behaviours.

They start by clarifying their purpose – the things that are most meaningful to their lives and work. Based on data from 3,500 employees across 14 countries, we now have statistical evidence of the link between purpose and motivation through independent research led by the London School of Economics in the UK. This found that people who had taken part in our purpose workshops reported an impressive 49% jump in intrinsic motivation compared to those who hadn’t, while a quarter said they were more inspired to go the extra mile in their job.

The Future-fit Plan plays a crucial role in connecting employees to the priority skills Unilever needs for current roles and future work. Employees use their plan to guide their career path and identify and develop the skills they’ll need to succeed. This might involve enhancing their skills for their current role (upskilling), training to move to a different role in Unilever (reskilling), or preparing for careers and opportunities beyond our business. 30% of our office-based employees now have an active Future-fit Plan in place.

To support their development, employees are guided to personalised learning materials and can engage with others on a similar learning track via Degreed, our online learning hub, which our employees accessed over 2.4 million times in 2022. And through our Flex Experiences programme, people gain hands-on experience by working on assignments with other teams around Unilever.

We continue to expand the range and reach of our training and development programmes, along with access to a range of development resources. Even with the volatile economic context that has seen other companies pull back on their learning investment, in 2022 we spent around €77 million on training and development and estimated average of €644 per employee. From the data we can collect through our learning platforms and other training offered to our employees (those who have access to our IT systems, not including temporary and seasonal workers), we estimate that employees received on average 27 hours of training and development in 2022.

Furthermore, we continue to focus on equipping our people with future-fit skills. These include skills we’ve prioritised as important enablers of business growth, such as data science, agile working, and digital expertise for manufacturing. In 2022 we upskilled or reskilled 15% of our employees with these specific skills.

Ultimately, our Future-fit Plan approach ensures our people know the skills they need to be future-fit and how we can support them to develop these skills.

140Certified Agile coaches at the end of 2022


We’re investing in creating an agile mindset amongst our people – it is fundamental to how we work.

In 2022, we continued building this capability for the business by appointing Agile coaches and training Scrum Masters (who are responsible for driving the process), for each of our Business Groups. These Agile Coaches and Scrum Masters underwent accredited development programme and are now upskilling our leaders, and teams, helping them embed Agile behaviours, skills and delivery processes. This is already resulting in business benefits through simplification and growth. By the end of 2022, we had 140 Agile coaches trained and certified, more than 100 trained Scrum Masters who have helped to connect over 2,200 employees to complete at least some form of Agile training.  

Flex Experiences

Our in-house flexible working programme matches people with project opportunities in other business areas and locations to experience different roles and projects and build skills, without having to change their core role. The AI-powered talent marketplace allows our team leaders to resource projects at speed and helps employees develop their skills and build experience in line with their Future-fit Plan. In 2021 for example, Flex allowed us to reprioritise more than 57,000 hours to nearly 200 critical projects.

Responsible transformation