By Guy Helman
What is the future of apprenticeships? I wish I could say for sure, but I’ll have a good try here!
Life, in all aspects, has been up in the air recently. There is no doubt that COVID-19 has hit employment hard and brought short-term uncertainty to many industries- the apprenticeship and skills sector have certainly not been immune to these challenges, with the consequences varying largely depending on the industry.
As an example, apprentices in construction, leisure and travel, manufacturing and retail have been hit particularly hard, with many employees, unfortunately, being placed on furlough or made redundant.
Therefore, it might seem strange that I am predicting some exciting years for the apprenticeship and skills industry. Here’s why.
As a business, we are fortunate to operate in sectors that are finally getting the recognition that they deserve, healthcare and childcare in particular.
There are numerous organisations in our industry that have been performing incredibly well amidst the challenges, and since the first lockdown came in, we have started over 2,000 learners on their apprenticeship journeys and supported over 1,000 learners to successfully achieve their programmes. We have consistently been able to produce our best-ever figures. This incredible feat has been made possible because of the commitment and dedication of our teams; but also the incredible resolve of our learners and partner employers.
While the pandemic has presented many challenges, it also brought IT and computer solutions, enabled by the increasing advancement and use of technology. With more online learning, virtual assessments and video calls taking place during the lockdown, I think it is safe to say that Covid-19 has significantly accelerated the pace and adoption of digital tools – in both the classroom and offices.
On top of this, with the advancements in technology not only from the pandemic but also in recent decades, it’s been predicted that 90% of the UK workforce will need to upskill or retrain by 2030 – we’re in the industry to support this, and can help workers who are not just entry-level but also mature students to advance their careers.
The entire situation illustrates to me that there remain opportunities for apprenticeships across essential sectors such as IT & Digital, healthcare, and clinical roles. And, given time, the others will no doubt return to their previous high performance.
COVID-19 has led to increased Government funding in pre-employment through programmes and further incentives for employers to hire and train apprentices. This includes campaigns such as Kickstarter, Adult Education Budget programmes, traineeships, and the imminent launch of the National Skills Fund.
As training providers, we have a responsibility to promote these opportunities to individuals and employers so that they are aware of the significant opportunities that exist to develop new knowledge, skills and behaviours.
I anticipate that over the coming year we will see an increase in the number of apprenticeship programmes launching, all the while supporting the gradual return of some of the traditionally popular sectors such as hospitality.
This will also increase employers’ abilities to support individuals with placements and employment opportunities while focussing on developing the skills of their existing workforce. With this in mind, there may be greater emphasis on management programmes to support a workforce that has been challenged over the past 12 months.
Vocational training and apprenticeships are a fantastic way for individuals to learn and develop new skills whilst they earn. It is wonderful to see them getting the exposure and focus that they truly deserve. The only way for apprenticeships now is up!
We’re all about making an impact, be that individuals making an impact through their day-to-day work, or by organisations making their impact on our economy.
As a national training provider, we make this impact throughout the UK, with expertise in childcare, healthcare, clinical and business skills apprenticeships.
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