As the lockdown eases slowly, what does this mean for the learning and employment sector? This week, we look at rising unemployment and an ambitious ‘Back to Work’ plan, and ask whether universities will move online for the next academic year.
A new deal for unemployment?
The direction of travel of the pandemic is uncertain. Will Covid-19 peter out by the Autumn, or will we get successive waves of the virus over the next few years, until, or if, we have a workable vaccine? No-one knows. What is certain, however, is the pandemic’s impact on unemployment in the UK.
In April 2020, unemployment claims were up by 70%, reaching almost 2.1 million, according to ONS statistics. In May, there has been a further rise, taking claims to nearly three million.
The government has protected another eight million jobs through its job retention scheme (JRS). The Treasury has said it will extend the scheme until October 2020. However, furloughed workers will be able to go back to work part-time from August, subsidised by employers.
Hardest hit are those areas already worse off, said the Institute for Employment Studies (IES), with areas of the highest unemployment having fewest vacancies. Particularly hard hit are Scotland, Wales and the North East. According to figures by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, vacancies are between a fifth to a third of what they were a year ago.
Employment looks set to be an unprecedented crisis. However, IES thinks there is a solution. They note the potential of one-to-one caseworker support, which has been successful in Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands and Ireland. To this end, an IES report advocates a new ‘Back to Work’ campaign with five key planks:
- Investment in new active labour programmes for those out of work
- Refocusing skills and training to support the recovery
- An integrated and coherent offer for young people
- An orderly withdrawal from the Job Retention Scheme
- A new, partnership-based, ‘Back to Work’ campaign
In August, MWS Technology will relaunch its award-winning job-seeking platform, MyWorkSearch, under the new name of Aptem Employ. The combination of a powerful case management tool and a self-service job seeker portal, uniquely positions Aptem Employ as the solution to help employability providers deal with high numbers of job-ready, unemployed people. Complete with training for job seekers on everything from creating a CV to interview skills, the SaaS platform has everything people need to search, apply and land a new job – no matter what stage they are in their career. The case management tool supports providers to deal with high case-loads and a range of clients from those with low needs to more complex cases. Aptem Employ puts the ‘tech’ into employment coaching and recruitment.
Richard Alberg, CEO of MWS Technology, said:
“In recent years, the systems and support procured and put in place for the unemployed have been for low volume and high need clients – low numbers of long-term unemployed who need a lot of intervention.
“The employment services sector, at short notice, now needs to put in place programmes for high volume and low need, where the barriers to employment are much lower.
“And that’s where Aptem Employ comes in. It trains job seekers in the skills they need to find employment, while systematising every stage of the job searching experience – all on one platform.”
You can find out more about what Aptem Employ offers on this link.
Will universities move online into 2021?
Cambridge University has announced that all classes will move online for 2020 to 2021 academic year. Believing it is likely that social distancing will continue for some time, the university announced the move, saying:
“Lectures will continue to be made available online and it may be possible to host smaller teaching groups in person, as long as this conforms to social-distancing requirements.”
Most universities have moved all learning online during the lockdown, but Cambridge is the first UK university to announce all courses will continue online into 2021.
Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of the Office for Students, has said that students need to be told what learning experience they will receive before they accept any offers. It is expected, therefore, that more universities will announce plans for the next academic year over the coming weeks.