Using Apprenticeships for business recovery in a post-COVID world

On the 22nd February 2021, The UK Government announced what appeared to be a gradual roadmap out of lockdown following nearly a year of economic turmoil for UK businesses. With restrictions gradually lifting, employers will now turn their sights towards recovering from the pandemic and seeking once again to pursue long-term business visions. As the UK business community emerges from the pandemic, the landscape will be very different. Successfully bouncing back will be dependent on what strategies and tools businesses decide to use. At the heart of the recovery will be skills, and this is why apprenticeships are set to be instrumental in helping our businesses recover and thrive in the post-COVID world.

How has covid affected businesses?

The impact on businesses tends to vary case-by-case but almost every employer has had to comply with social distancing laws and the need for employees to work remotely. This has led to productivity slowdown in many physical industries such as manufacturing. At the same time, honouring repayments on business loans (whether private or government granted) will be an issue for many businesses in the early stages of recovery when cash flow is still tight. Some employers will have had to make the difficult decision to downsize their workforce during the midst of the pandemic. As the economy starts to develop, the service demand from these businesses will rise thus presenting the need to re-staff and re-scale. 

How can apprenticeships help businesses recover post-COVID?

Strengthening leadership and middle management

In the post-COVID world companies that wish to go forward will need the employees with the right skills in critical areas such as leadership, project management and data analysis. Often it is the case that many middle management roles are staffed by employees who have risen through the company structure on performance merit having never received any standardised training.

 

To propel a business forward it is essential that individuals in this space are equipped with the right tools to manage and make the right decisions. Apprenticeship training enables this by allowing companies to train existing and new talent to nationally recognised standards set by employers themselves. Over time this will result in a companies full of people with the right skills to help it develop. This also offers individuals an opportunity to become socially mobile. 

Empowering businesses to do more with less

Companies that have had to downsize or scale back employees during the pandemic can use apprenticeships to their advantage as a way of diversifying the skills of existing employees. Whilst some companies will be looking to scale up, cash flow issues and an economy in warm-up mode will see others opt to restructure and take a more agile approach. An example of this is encouraging employees to branch out to cover skill gaps as required by the business. Apprenticeships are extremely complimentary to this approach as they act as a source of skills enrichment, enabling business to function this way. There are many benefits to this approach as it allows employers to build skills into their existing workforce if outlay for new hires is not immediately feasible.

Attracting loyal talent

Businesses that want to make a quick recovery and strengthen their positions in the post-COVID market will need first class talent in their workforce. This relates to new hires that have genuine ambition, passion and drive to build a successful career in their given field. A great way of tapping into this talent pool is through offering apprenticeships which are now being seen by many young people as a credible path to obtaining a career without the financial burden of university.

 

There is also no age barrier to becoming an apprentice which means employers can benefit from hiring apprentices with degrees, life experience, focus and maturity. The pandemic has resulted in huge youth unemployment figures and with many workers suffering redundancies, there is an eager workforce looking to retrain in new and required vocations.

Bypassing the COVID-exacerbated skills gap

Skill shortages must be addressed by employers wishing to thrive in the post-COVID economy. Historically this has been problematic due to traditional routes of education not providing the skills or experience needed by 33% of roles on the job market.

 

A recent PWC report states that IT, Software Development, Programming, Business Support, Finance & HR were among areas of concern. Since the pandemic, the need to accelerate digital transformation has become critical for many employers but with a lack of qualified IT & digital specialists the skills gap is set to grow.  

 

The only solution for employers wishing to weather this growing gap is to furnish personnel with up to date industry standard training. Apprenticeships provide exactly this since the content of every apprenticeship is employer led, meaning employers can have a say in shaping the qualification so that it reflects real-life business needs. Not only this, but the training needs to marry the skills and competencies with a commercial awareness. Lifetime’s apprenticeship programs are designed to be business additive by delivering employer-led programs intertwined with essential interfacing and soft skills.

About Sean Cosgrove

Sean is Lifetime's Chief Commercial Officer, proud to support learners and employers across the UK access high quality training solutions. Sean joined Lifetime in 2016 when he relocated from Sydney to London, and has 10+ years experience in vocational education.

 

 

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