Why learning new skills is vital in the economic aftermath of COVID-19

As businesses reopen following the COVID-19 lockdown, many workers will be forced to look for new work opportunities in what is fast becoming the toughest economic climate in living memory.

To ensure they are not left behind in such a difficult jobs market, workers will need to have the right skills to attract potential employers and get their CV onto an interview shortlist.

Without these skills, switching industries becomes even harder.

The importance of post COVID-19 skills development

UK government has been warned that more than four million more people are likely to be unemployed by the end of the year due to the impact of COVID-19, according to estimates given in ministerial papers and reported in The Times.

The biggest impact is set to be faced by those in retail, wholesale, and food services. In these sectors, job openings have fallen by half, the ministerial papers warned.

Workers who are made redundant will need new transferable skills which will help them compete in the jobs market.

However, more than 30% of workers from the poorest backgrounds say they cannot afford to fund training themselves and this percentage increases to 59% of those who are already unemployed, new research by the City & Guilds group found.

Making more money available for skills training is vital to ensure mass unemployment does not scar another generation.

Robert Halfon, the chairman of the House of Commons education committee, said: “The correct allocation of funds and investment in apprenticeships, further education, and skills must be the number one priority.”

After calls to release the £2.5 billion, yet unspent in the National Skills Fund for retraining, there were major funding announcements by the UK government to help people bridge their skills gaps.

What did the government announce about skills funding? And is it enough?

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has now announced the start of the second phase of its Plan for Jobs which provides support directly to people and businesses, including in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Additional funding will be available for helping people into work through the Barnett formula and devolved tax fiscal frameworks.

The Chancellor announced £1.6 billion for boosting work search, skills, and apprenticeships, which included the costs of 100,000 new apprenticeship places.

The announcement included:

  • An extra £2,000 for employers in England for each new apprentice they hire aged under 25, and a £1,500 payment for each new apprentice they hire aged 25 and over, before January 31, 2021.
  • £111 million for high-quality work placements and training for 16 to 24-year-olds in England.
  • £101 million for the 2020/21 academic year, giving all 18 and 19-year-olds in England the opportunity to study targeted high value Level 2 and 3 courses when they cannot find a job.
  • £895 million to enhance work search support by doubling the number of work coaches in Job Centre Plus before the end of the financial year.
  • Up to £95 million this year to expand the scope of the Work and Health Programme in Great Britain. This will give additional voluntary support in the autumn for benefit claimants who have been out of work for more than three months.
  • £40 million to fund private sector capacity to introduce a job finding support service in Great Britain in the autumn.
  • An increase to the Flexible Support Fund of £150 million.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson pledged to publish a White Paper showing the government’s plans to build a German-style further education system for Britain, with qualifications to be based on standards led by employers.

Skills employers want?

When people are switching sectors and changing their careers, employers are looking for transferable skills which could be useful in their own business.

Arguably along with technical competence and an understanding of 21st century enterprise, the ability to apply problem-solving techniques, analyse data and information, plan and organise tasks effectively, communicate effectively, and work independently and within a team are all primary skills required by employers. Possessing these skills could enhance the opportunity of gaining employment or securing a promotion.

How could workers get those skills?

A Certificate of Higher Education Skills for the Workplace delivered by University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) will assist learners gain or further develop all the skills previously mentioned.

This unique programme has been designed to provide opportunities for individuals who have previously not studied at degree level. The aim is to assist learners to develop practical work-based skills, knowledge, and behaviours which are applicable across a range of employment sectors. This full-time course is normally taught flexibly over a period of 10 months at eight different locations across Wales and in Tidworth Garrison.

Admission to the course requires a commitment from learners to attend taught workshop sessions. These sessions are held one evening per week and one weekend day per month for ten months of the year in Wales. Social distancing measures are in place.

Guided learning will, from time to time, include tutor-led Skype or MS Teams tutorial sessions with designated tutors.

The class size is always kept small to ensure that the learning experience is relevant to each learner and that learners get the maximum benefit from their dedicated tutor.

SfWP tutors are successful businessmen and women with academic qualifications that have been commissioned by the university providing a relaxed and enjoyable learning experience.

For those looking to retrain or further develop their skills sets Certificate of Higher Education Skills for the Workplace is step in the right direction.

Why choose SMS Training and Consultancy?

  • SMS Training and Consultancy is a leading skills provider with expert staff committed to continuing professional development.
  • We have a strong focus on our clients, the company has developed through repeat business from satisfied customers.
  • We offer flexible training to suit your needs, and though based in Wales we can deliver services nationally.
  • As well as agents for the University of Wales, Trinity Saint David, SMS Training is an accredited training company certified through Skills for Justice, Highfields ABC, QNUK, Qualsafe and ECSI.

Are you looking to gain a new qualification and update your skills?

You can find out more and request information about CertHE Skills for the Workplace here. Please call us on 07802 220842