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People need to get back to work. The last 15 months have been hard for all of us. We have faced disruption, uncertainty, change and of course great sadness and fear in both our personal and work lives. The pandemic, and of course Brexit, have literally transformed not only the way we work, but who is working and in what sectors. And whilst everyone has felt overwhelmed, it is perhaps the younger generation who have been worst hit because of major gaps in their education and training.

With an increase in redundancies and many skilled employees returning home to other EU member states, there has been a rise a significant rise in both unemployment and underemployment as well as a further widening in the skills gap. Couple this with the furloughing of over 11 million people and a migration of employees from retail and hospitality to other industries and it’s not difficult to see that the UK has significant challenges ahead.

Learning and development

According to recent data from The Open University, unless immediate action is taken, the skills shortage could cost the UK £90 billion a year by 2024. And whilst it’s good news that the Government recognises the problem and has made skills one of their top priorities, what can businesses do to ensure that that the skills supplied by colleges and apprenticeships match their requirements?

I believe the process of economic recovery must be skills-lead to ensure people who are about the enter the workforce have the high-quality skills that employers need. This is where schools, colleges and apprenticeships need to align themselves closely with businesses in their immediate area. In addition, employers must focus their attention on providing vital learning and development opportunities for workers, so they can either learn new skills or be re-skilled in other areas.

Skills for jobs

The government’s Skills for Jobs White Paper enshrines the Prime Minister’s new Lifetime Skills Guarantee, setting out a blueprint for a post-16 education system that will ensure everyone, no matter where they live or their background, can gain the skills they need to progress in work at any stage of their lives.

Designed to give everyone the chance to get the skills they need, right from the start of their career, it is hoped that it will deliver high quality technical education across the country and help people retrain and secure better paid jobs.

Opening up job opportunities

Furthermore, the Lifetime Skills Guarantee will offer tens of thousands of adults the opportunity to retrain in later life, helping them to gain in-demand skills and open up further job opportunities. This includes the chance for adults without a full level 3 qualification (A-level equivalent) to gain one from April 2021 for free in a range of sectors including engineering, health and accountancy.

Meanwhile, Skills Bootcamps – free, flexible courses of just 12-16 weeks – are giving adults the opportunity to build up sector-specific skills and fast-track to an interview with a local employer. Whilst the option of a Lifelong Loan Entitlement will also make it easier for adults and young people to study more flexibly, which can be used over their lifetime and for modules of a course.

If you need specialist HR help and assistance to support so you can revisit your learning and development offering, please get in touch.

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