With a promising vaccine, the end of lockdown, countries beginning to lift restrictions and some relief of constraints in the UK over Christmas, things appear to be finally seeming to lighten as we wind down 2020 and all begin to look forward to a possible fresh start for 2021. Could we finally be getting ready for a ‘post-pandemic’ world?
Bill Gates recently published a podcast outlining what our world could look like ‘post-pandemic’. While it was very much a ‘long-term’ view, his 7 predictions were hopeful looking towards the future, and, when you factor in that he rightly predicted a global pandemic 5 years ago, his is a view worth considering. We should be hopeful, we have learnt from this and, while society may be changed, we have adapted and will continue to do so.
At Amazing Apprenticeships, we find ourselves working collaboratively with key audiences on this agenda. We spend a vast amount of time talking to young people, students, parents, carers, teachers and career advisers, inspiring and empowering them to look outside of the traditional education box and explore the world of apprenticeships. We also talk with a huge number of employers to assist them in their recruitment processes, how they design and deliver their apprenticeship programmes and upskill their workforce. And we partner with some of the top organisations working tirelessly in the social mobility, diversity and inclusion space to champion the widening of access to apprenticeships, to amplify data and research and to bring forward the voices of young people and those who are disadvantaged from accessing opportunities.
While we cannot help but look at 2020 and, in all honesty, be glad to see the back of it, the stats around how our young people have been affected by the past 9 months are sobering, with our young people among those hardest hit by the pandemic in each and every way.
- Under 25s are the most likely to have been furloughed or redundant and make up a third of current universal credit claims
- 2/3 of young people have been mentally affected by the pandemic/lockdown
- There has been a 60% drop in online grad vacancies
- and a mammoth 50% drop in apprenticeships
Tony Wilson of IES recently talked about how our ‘challenge now is weak hiring’, mainly due to the fact that many firms don’t have the cash, confidence or capacity to hire. Whilst the government has signalled significant investment through apprenticeship incentives, Kickstart and the new National Skills Fund, I firmly believe (and can vouch through personal experience of hiring apprentices), that the benefits of creating opportunities to hire or give work experience to young people are so much more than just financial.
2021 presents a significant opportunity for businesses. We can use it as a turning-point to do things differently. To re-imagine the skills and diversity that we want and need for our businesses as we emerge into our post-pandemic world, and to ensure that we create a workplace culture that embraces and nurtures inclusion.
We need to find a way to capture the attention and imagination of employers to look at apprenticeships as a way of providing real opportunities, to not only address employment gaps, but also to boost social mobility by creating roles for those who are potentially facing a double-disadvantage this year through being young, and by being furthest from the labour market. Apprenticeships also have a crucial role for adults too, whether entering or re-entering the labour market, or utilising apprenticeships as a way to up-skill or re-skill.
There is a balance to be struck. We must be careful not to make this overly bureaucratic or difficult to navigate, whilst still ensuring that programmes and initiatives are high quality and supportive. Changing the way that businesses attract, recruit and retain talent might feel like a huge task to undertake, and so the key for me is about harnessing local collaboration and partnerships.
Our friends at The Social Mobility Commission released a brilliant video outlining exactly what hiring from lower socio-economic backgrounds can do for a business, if you missed it you can catch up here.
Employers can register their interest in Amazing Apprenticeships’ Genie Programme which will address many of the issues outlined above. A 12 month programme, the GENuine Interest in Equality programme, Genie, will empower individuals to address diversity, inclusion and social mobility in their workplace. Find out more and register your interest here.
Amazing Apprenticeships are proudly supporting the Westminster Insight UK Apprenticeships Digital Conference on Wednesday 10th February 2021.