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A report from City & Guilds calls for more investment in reskilling the workforce most affected by the coronavirus pandemic to avoid long-term unemployment.
The Government needs to support bite-sized, online and flexible learning to quickly retrain people back into work, according to a new report, which says that people from lower socio-economic groups will face more barriers to accessing help.
The The Recovery and Resilience report from the City & Guilds Group is based in part on a survey of 2,000 working and non-working adults in the UK. It found that people from lower socio-economic groups were less likely to believe that they have the support needed to get a new job in terms of personal contacts and support from previous employers or a recruitment consultant.
The report found that affordability was a key barrier preventing people from undertaking training and skills development to get back into employment. 33% of people from lower socio-economic backgrounds stated that they could not afford training and they are also less likely to know how to access funding to pay for a course (26%). These figures rise to 59% and 43% respectively amongst people who are already unemployed.
The report also found that a fifth (18%) of all workers – and 25% of the unemployed – are unsure of the skills or qualifications they need in order to find a new role.
Kirstie Donnelly MBE, CEO at City & Guilds Group, said: “As we get the country back on the road to recovery and set employment levels on the right trajectory, it is critical that we act now to provide lifelines for those most in need. From supporting those from lower socio-economic groups and young people who we know will be most badly impacted by the spike in unemployment through to supporting people from industries in decline as a result of the pandemic to retrain into new roles.
“To counter the mass unemployment which, left unchecked, will scar the futures of a generation, we are calling on the Government to urgently redirect existing skills funding to ensure that the budgets set aside for further education are being allocated in the right way, with the right focus to support skills development that promotes social mobility. There is no more time to consult, we have both the means to make this happen and the evidence to prove how much it is needed. This is our ‘Act Now’ moment.”
The report recommends the broadening of the Adult Education Budget to support more flexible training, the release of £3bn of unspent National Skills Fund (NSF) to support post-Covid reskilling and lifelong learning and employment hubs in those regions most at risk and the extension of Apprenticeship Levy funds to support traineeships with a focus on the young. It also calls on employers and Government to invest in digital skills and online learning tools.