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Sector News During Covid-19

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Education and skills providers are under pressure as the effects of the pandemic bite, while the Treasury announces plans to address economic collapse and rising unemployment.

Providers under pressure from Covid-19 pandemic

The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education has warned that up to 300 providers may be at risk of insolvency. Providers have been struggling due to the uncertain economic outlook for employers who recruit apprentices.

Figures published by the Department for Education show that, compared to the same quarter last year, there has been a fall of 47.9% in new starts from March to May 2020.

Universities are also facing difficulties, hit by falling numbers of international students and uncertainty about what the new academic year will look like for students. A study by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has suggested that 13 universities could collapse without a government bailout. The sector as a whole could face a substantial drop in income of between £3 to £19 billion.

Skills in the spotlight

The UK Treasury will pledge to fund 30,000 new traineeships for young people in England.

Traineeships are aimed at 16 to 24-year-olds and combine classroom-based learning with an unpaid work placement of up to 240 hours. Learners are offered an interview or an apprenticeship when they complete their studies if a position is available.

Under the new offer, the government will give firms £1000 for each work placement they provide.

The new funding will be announced today as part of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s post-pandemic recovery plan.

Unemployment job coaches to double in post-pandemic recovery plan

Jobcentre coaches will double to 27,000 under new plans due to be announced by Sunak today. 

The number of registered unemployed in the UK rose by 126% during the pandemic and the Job Retention Scheme – currently funding nine million workers – is closing at the end of October, fuelling fears of mass unemployment. The UK also suffered a 20% contraction in output in April. There are fears that the ‘double whammy’ of the pandemic alongside a no-deal/barebones deal Brexit will further impact all UK sectors.

Work coaches offer support to help job seekers build their skills and confidence.

The announcement comes as the chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, Gita Gopinath, told the UK parliament that the government should raise unemployment benefit to support workers retrain in sectors of high demand. 

Richard Alberg, CEO of Aptem Solutions, said:

“The UK is facing an uncertain future from rising unemployment, a fragile business sector, and structural weakness in the skills sector. I welcome the news that the UK Treasury is taking steps to deal with all these factors. The concern remains that the measures taken, no matter how ambitious, will not be enough to address the enormity of the challenges.

“Technology should be at the centre of post-pandemic and pre-Brexit recovery plans and a means to address the longer-term risks of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. We have seen throughout the pandemic that technology can help many sectors deal with unexpected crises. Technology should be central to reskilling the nation’s workforce as both a platform to enable skills training and as an end in itself.

“Aptem will play its part in helping the nation to recover. Our solutions include Aptem Apprentice, Skills and Study, which are all about creating the most efficient and effective way of training and Aptem Employ which revolutionises job searching. All of these platforms create an innovative route through the challenges the UK faces, and we would urge businesses and government to look at what we offer.”

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