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UK Employees are Considering a Career Change as Coronavirus acts as a ‘wake-up call’
May 14, 2020
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A study of UK based adults found that 39 per cent of respondents are considering changing careers, with one in ten attempting to retrain for a completely different job during the coronavirus crisis.

Millions of working adults are reevaluating their careers during the coronavirus pandemic with many ‘re-skilling’ to ensure they can adapt to the post lockdown workplace. 

A study of 1000 adults who have been employed over the last two years found the outbreak to be a ‘wake-up call’, with 39 per cent pondering their job prospects.

Just under a third of those polled (28 per cent) are currently furloughed, with a further 47 per cent fearing they could find themselves in the same boat.

Another 42 per cent are concerned they will not have a position to go back to once the lockdown ends.

The study, commissioned by PeopleCert, a global leader in business and IT certifications and languages, found a quarter are attempting to upskill in the hope they will be indispensable or easily employable elsewhere.

Reassuringly, 36 per cent of those polled revealed their employer has offered them support in improving their existing skillsets.

Byron Nicolaides, president and CEO of PeopleCert, said: “We passionately believe in the need for continuous training for every professional – we have even coined a term for this – ‘skilling’.

“Without skilling, existing members of staff are likely to become bored and demotivated because they’re not being challenged or given the chance to grow.

“And given recent events, this is perhaps even more important now than it has been for quite some time.

“If staff are unfulfilled they may start to think about pursuing a career elsewhere when life returns to normal.

“This in-turn is likely to mean businesses will need to invest huge sums of money in recruitment – with no guarantee they’ll be able to find anyone with the right attributes.

“So investing in skilling existing employees is the best way forward – and it’s also less costly.”

The study also found more than a third of those polled have reconsidered their chosen career since lockdown began.

In fact, one in 10 are currently attempting to retrain for an entirely different job.

However, 54 per cent fear they are too established in their current career to do something new.

But despite all the uncertainty at the moment, many are confident about their job prospects.

A fifth of those who have been furloughed revealed they feel optimistic about their career, with half using their time to learn something new with a view to boosting their existing skills.

The PeopleCert study, carried out through OnePoll, found those questioned have 10 core skills on average – with problem-solving, team working and organisation the most common.

However, the skill they would most like to improve upon is public speaking, followed by computing and assertiveness.

A separate study of 1,000 business owners, by PeopleCert, found six in 10 job applicants lack the skills employers are looking for.

Two thirds also said filling vacancies with workers who have the desired skillsets is one of their biggest challenges – even harder than retaining valued members of staff.

Byron Nicolaides added: “As the results show, filling vacancies with individuals who have the desired skill set is a major challenge.

“Not only is recruitment costly on a financial level, but there’s a danger it could also affect a business’ ability to grow because they can’t find the right people for the job.

“This is why skilling is so important – it reduces the need for investing in recruitment because fewer members of staff want to leave as they are likely to be more fulfilled and stimulated.

“Furthermore, businesses can then grow with a workforce which has all the right skills.”

New Entrepreneurs Emerge in the Face of Adversity
May 12, 2020
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A new survey has found that one in ten Brits have plans to start their own business because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A new entrepreneur in her new logistics factory holding a checkboard

UK start-up competition The Pitch has surveyed 2,000 UK adults and has found that 11% say they want to start a business because of the coronavirus crisis. Around one-fifth want to start a business to give back to society.

Key reasons for starting a business include:

  • To earn extra money (47%);
  • To have something to do (26%);
  • Because I finally have the time to start a business (21%);
  • To give back to society (17%);
  • It’s my only option (16%).

The number of people that want to start a business because of the crisis is highest in London, Sheffield and Newcastle. Of those that are interested in working for themselves, 16% have started on a plan, 11% have spoken to a financial adviser, 11% have spoken to potential customers and 10% have registered a company.

Just over 3% of those surveyed have already launched a business because of the crisis. The figures are even higher in Brighton (5.08%), Glasgow (6.02%) and Birmingham (4.95%).

The Pitch, which was launched in 2008, helps start-ups create a pitch and gives them the platform to use it. The competition is now open for applications and The Pitch will run five free, day-long business boot camps across the country to find the UK’s most exciting new start-ups before the final in November. The Pitch is also offering every applicant free one-on-one sessions covering everything from marketing to cashflow.

“We know business is tougher than ever right now,” said Chris Goodfellow, founder of Box 2 Media, which runs The Pitch. “We also know that amazing, world-changing businesses will be built during the crisis.

“Every year, we see The Pitch finalists trying to solve some of the biggest challenges we face, from mental health to tackling food waste. There’s no doubt the UK’s entrepreneurs are going to step up in the wake of the coronavirus crisis too.”

Several of The Pitch judges founded their businesses during recessions and went on to build hugely successful companies, including equity crowdfunding platform Crowdcube and Moneypenny.

Luke Lang, co-founder of Crowdcube, said: “I’m a strong believer that difficult economic times are a breeding ground for innovation; it’s no coincidence to me that the likes of Funding Circle, Crowdcube and Ratesetter emerged from the banking crisis.

“Britain has a proud history of innovation, enterprise and entrepreneurship and it’s vital we continue to support our start-up community, who will be crucial in helping our economy emerge from this crisis.”

Ed Reeves, co-founder of Moneypenny, said: “Moneypenny was born as we entered a tumultuous few years of recession. There wasn’t a single person who felt it was a good time to start trading, including pretty much every potential investor … Out of adversity comes opportunity.”

Research by the Institute of Directors (IoD) suggests that businesses are also adapting in the face of the pandemic.

An IoD survey of business leaders has found that four in ten said their organisation had made changes – especially home working and a greater focus on digital services – that they intend to keep in place after lockdown.

In addition, almost one in six of those polled said they had launched a new product or service due to the circumstances. The majority of these were related to the country’s medical response, from producing hand gel to procuring PPE.

Edwin Morgan, IoD director of policy, said: “Many companies are finding a way to innovate through the obstacles. The solutions they create might just end up becoming the new normal.”

Written by Rachel Miller.

CDI Position Paper on Web Videoconferencing for Personal Careers Guidance
May 11, 2020
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As web videoconferencing is becoming an increasingly common method for delivering personal and group career guidance and information the CDI has published a position paper.

This paper considers how Practitioners should review their practice to ensure safe and ethical approaches are adopted. 


Furloughed Employees in the Training Sector Have Their Say

By GPRS Recruitment.

GPRS Recruitment

We’ve all been unable to escape the word ‘furlough’ over the past few weeks – a term many of us were not even familiar with before this crisis. Simply put, the government’s furlough scheme guarantees employees who have stopped working during the coronavirus pandemic 80% of their wage (with exceptions).

Fortunately, only 30% of candidates who responded to our survey said that they have been furloughed.

The Financial Times reported at the start of April that up to half of companies in the UK were furloughing their staff (https://www.ft.com/content/8e2…85-a9bf-78deeb94bc80), so the training sector appears to be more active than other industries, with most staff still working, albeit remotely.

53% of staff in the sector who have been furloughed agreed with the decision to furlough them, acknowledging that it would be impossible for them to perform their role remotely. In terms of training staff, there are of course some fields in which trainers are unable to deliver remotely, namely the more ‘hands on’ qualifications such as hairdressing and construction.

A further 14% of furloughed candidates, when asked if they felt it was necessary for them to be furloughed, selected ‘other’ and offered comments such as ‘learners [being] unavailable’ due to their own work being disrupted, ‘client demand lowered and there were many cancellations’, and delivering remotely being ‘impossible with a young child’. In addition to simply whether a qualification can be delivered remotely or not, there are a wealth of other factors that have been considered when the decision has been made to furlough or not.

Indeed, only one third of those that told us they have been furloughed described themselves as trainers, with the majority of furloughed employees identifying themselves as management or admin staff. With apprenticeships still continuing where possible, and apprentices still being able to continue with their qualification if they have been furloughed themselves, for most training staff there is still work available, and happily, for many training providers furlough is a last resort.

*The survey was conducted between 6th and 10th April 2020. The survey had 1,598 responses.*

How To Break Bad News?

In these challenging times, it is likely that bad news will have to be shared with members of your workforce. The following provides some hints and tips on how to break bad news in a way that ensures everyone understands the message.

Bad news can happen at any time so it is important that people understand how to communicate such information in a way that makes the process easier for those on the receiving end. This article offers some points to consider when preparing to deliver bad news.

Bad news may constitute any number of things in the workplace: redundancies, demotion, resignations, the loss of a major contract, or the death of or injury to a colleague/patient/person, etc. Whatever the situation, the following points are worth considering.

Choose a Suitable Environment

It is always best to deliver bad news in a room where everyone feels comfortable. Somewhere light, airy and spacious is often best. There should be enough seats so that no one has to stand. It is always best to tell everyone affected by the news as quickly as possible and at the same time, so gather everyone together.

Ensure that the surroundings are quiet to ensure everyone can clearly hear what is being said and that there will be no interruptions. Interruptions at such times can cause people to feel awkward or that the situation is not being given the respect it deserves.

Preparing the Audience

Good practice dictates that it is best to come straight to the point, but that the audience should be prepared with a warning shot. It will be helpful to use opening lines such as:

  • This may come as a shock to you. 
  • I have some bad news to share with you. 
  • You may already have some apprehensions about what I have to say. The news is not good. 

After opening in this way, it is best to deliver the bad news directly in clear language. The audience will absorb this raw information in the way most suitable to them.

It is vital to consider the tone of voice and body language.

It is best to speak clearly and calmly with empathy and understanding demonstrated in facial expressions and subtle gestures. 

Break the Information into Bite-Size Chunks

When breaking bad news, nerves and shock can sometimes set-in. When this happens, people tend to speak much faster and less clearly than they would normally. It is important to remain calm and to deliver the information in manageable pieces. This will enable the audience to both hear and absorb everything that is being said.

Clarifying Understanding

After each piece of information, it can be helpful for both the audience and the speaker to clarify understanding. This will help the members of the audience to think about what has been said and to speak up if they don’t understand something. 

It is not always best to clarify understanding after every point, as audience members may have lots of questions – many unrelated to the specific point being discussed. The speaker should consider the situation before deciding when to break for questions. 

Take it Slowly

It is important not to ramble on and bombard the audience with too much and/or too detailed information. Always consider how much the audience need to know at this particular point in time. Is there information that would be better left out until a follow-up session or until the audience members have had time to digest and come to terms with the initial shock? 

Allow the audience to ask questions to clarify their own understanding. If the audience is large, this is better left to the end of the announcement.

Provide Written Information

In some situations, it is helpful to provide people with written information about the news they have just received. This is the best medium for detail.

As well as providing clear and direct information, the written document should include contact details for those who can answer any remaining questions. If any follow-up meetings or further events have been arranged, these should also be detailed in the written document.

New Free Online Learning Platform to Boost Workplace Skills
April 29, 2020
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Online platform ‘The Skills Toolkit’ will help people to build their skills during the coronavirus outbreak and beyond.

A new online learning platform to help boost the nation’s skills while people are staying at home, has been launched today (28 April) by Education Secretary Gavin Williamson.

The Skills Toolkit

Free courses are available through a new online platform hosted on the gov.uk website, called The Skills Toolkit. The new platform gives people access to free, high-quality digital and numeracy courses to help build up their skills, progress in work and boost their job prospects.

These are the skills which are highly valued by employers and sought after in a wide range of jobs. With more people expected to be working and studying remotely in the coming months, the platform offers a great opportunity to learn new skills to help to get ahead online and gain the knowledge we’ll all need for the future. The platform also offers employees who have been furloughed an opportunity to keep up their skills development while they are at home.

Courses on offer cover a range of levels, from everyday maths and tools for using email and social media more effectively at work to more advanced training. Individuals will be able to access courses helping them to create great online content developed by the University of Leeds and the Institute of Coding, to understand the Fundamentals of Digital Marketing from Google Digital Garage and to learn how to code for data analysis from the Open University. All courses are online and flexible, so people can work through them at their own pace.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said:

I know how difficult the recent months have been and the huge changes the coronavirus has brought on the daily lives of us all.

The high-quality and free to access courses on offer on our new online learning platform, The Skills Toolkit, will help those whose jobs have been affected by the outbreak, and people looking to boost their skills while they are staying at home, protecting the NHS and saving lives.

I want businesses to encourage their furloughed employees to use The Skills Toolkit to improve their knowledge, build their confidence and support their mental health so they have skills they need to succeed after the coronavirus outbreak.

The Skills Toolkit is designed to help people gain new skills while they are staying at home and boost their confidence. The courses have been selected on the advice of experts and leading employers to make sure they meet the needs of business, not just for today but in the future. This is just a first step towards assisting with the longer-term recovery to boost employability across the country, helping people to build up the skills employers need during time spent at home.

Employers are also encouraged to use The Skills Toolkit to help to support and develop furloughed employees who are interested in learning from home.

Matthew Fell, CBI Chief UK Policy Director said:

Online learning is a great way for people to upgrade their skills at any time, but never more so than during a lockdown.

The toolkit’s heavy emphasis on the skills that businesses need are welcome.

Maths and digital skills are highly prized by employers, so for those who take the chance to upskill they can help improve their job prospects and career progression. I’d encourage all businesses to make their staff aware of this learning opportunity.

Supporting the Mental Wellbeing of You and Your Team

By Remploy

All of our working lives have been heavily impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. Millions of us are now working from home, on furlough, or dealing with additional stresses and challenges in our lives, all of which can have a negative effect on our mental health.

That’s why at Remploy, we’re here to make sure we’re offering you the right support during this difficult time.

The Access to Work Mental Health Support Service, funded by the Department for Work and Pensions, is available at no charge to anyone with depression, anxiety, stress or other mental health issues affecting their work. 

Completely confidential, this service provides:

  • Tailored work-focused mental health support for nine months (currently delivered remotely)
  • Suitable coping strategies
  • A support plan
  • Advice on workplace adjustments at home, in an office, or other place of work
  • Practical advice and support.


Get in touch today to find out more by chatting with us online, email a2wmhss@remploy.co.uk to arrange a call back, or book your place on our next webinar on 28 April 2020.

ESFA Post-16 Provider Relief Scheme

Information about support available for post-16 training providers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Documents

ESFA post-16 provider relief scheme COVID-19 response: policy document

ESFA post-16 provider relief scheme: application guidance

ESFA post-16 provider relief scheme: application cashflow template 

ESFA post-16 provider relief scheme: model interim payment terms

Details

Applications can now be made to Provider Relief Scheme.

To be eligible to receive support from the scheme you must hold a direct contract that was procured as a service under Public Contract Regulations 2015. This applies to apprenticeship contracts for services that commenced in January 2018, for delivery to smaller employers that do not pay the levy (non-levy), and adult education budget contracts for services that commenced in November 2017.

Please note that we are not yet able to confirm our position around providing support for learning funded through European Social Fund (ESF) co-financing contracts. This is not a domestic funding stream and we therefore need to agree our approach with the ESF Managing Authority.

In addition to holding an eligible contract you will be required to meet the following conditions:

  • 2018 to 2019 qualification achievement rates which are above 40%. However, providers with rates below that can submit an exceptional case that they are a critical supplier delivering niche provision
  • submitted their latest financial accounts to ESFA on time
  • not been judged by Ofsted as making insufficient progress as a result of a new provider monitoring visit
  • delivered under the contract prior to April 2020
  • plan to deliver learning under the contract in May and June 2020
  • not furloughed the staff required to deliver the contract (or they intend to bring furloughed staff back into work and can evidence this)
  • not received a notice of termination from the ESFA

If applying to support delivery of a contract to deliver apprenticeships to smaller employers (non-levy), the applicant must also deliver apprenticeships and appear on the Register of Apprenticeship Training providers (RoATP) as a main provider.

Providers will need to demonstrate that they have a need for the funding requested in order to maintain capacity within their organisations to support learners and respond to the economic recovery.

If successful, you will need to provide a summary of how the support funding has been used, and you must retain evidence for audit purposes that this has been used for eligible costs; we reserve the right to recover unused funds or funds used inappropriately.

Eligible training providers should read our policy and guidance before making an application using the link below.

The closing date for applications is Thursday 30 April. We will respond to your application by Friday 15 May.

Apply for the ESFA post-16 provider relief scheme.

Published 24 April 2020

New Analysis of the Impact of Lockdown on UK Jobs
April 20, 2020
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Estimates produced by the Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER) at the University of Essex suggest the lockdown can take more than 6.5m jobs out of the economy -around a quarter of the total.

The study led by Professor Matteo Richiardi with ISER researcher Diego Collado uses ONS data to predict job losses by sector.

Using the most updated Input-Output tables provided by the ONS (2016), we have quantified the overall effects on the UK economy of different lockdown scenarios. In more detail, following a similar reasoning to Keogh-Brown et al. (2010) and Dorn et al. (2020), we have assumed the lockdown implies some reduction in the final demand of goods and services (this includes demand from households and government, as well as investments and exports), plus constraints on the supply side, for instance due to reduced productivity of working from home. We have then worked out how this reduction is passed on to the intermediate demand – the productive engine of the country. 

Our baseline scenario predicts an overall contraction in GDP and employment of around 20%, including direct and indirect effects.

As Figure 1 shows, the most badly affected sector is Accommodation & Food Services (-75%), followed by Services and retail (almost halved), and transport (-44%). To be noted, some of the assumptions about the reduction in final demand in these sector are more drastic, but intermediate demand required by other sectors partly offsets this change. Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing loses one job in 10, mainly due to reduced demand by the Accommodation & Food Services sector. Mining, Energy and Water Supply, Real Estate Activities (mostly composed of rents), together with Public Administration and Techical Activities are barely affected, while the Health sector sees a significant increase in overall production and employment (+27%). 

Figure 2 reports the scenario assumptions and the estimated effects on production and employment, by sector of activity.

Our next step will be to evaluate the impact of the macroeconomic consequences of the lockdown on household disposable income, inequality and poverty, and quantify the cost of the rescue package put forward by the Government.

Figure 1: Estimated effects of lockdown on employment, by industry (%). 

Figure 2: Estimated effects of lockdown on employment, by industry (absolute numbers). 

References

  • Florian Dorn, Clemens Fuest, Marcell Göttert, Carla Krolage, Stefan Lautenbacher, Sebastian Link, Andreas Peichl, Magnus Reif, Stefan Sauer, Marc Stöckli, Klaus Wohlrabe, Timo Wollmershäuser (2020). The Economic Costs of the Coronavirus Shutdown for Germany: A Scenario Calculation. EconPol Policy Brief 3(21).
  • Marcus R. Keogh-Brown, Simon Wren-Lewis, W. John Edmunds, Philippe Beutels, and Richard D. Smith (2010). The Possible Macroeconomic Impact on the UK of an Influenza Pandemic. Health Economics 19: 1345–1360.  
Connecting with Customers in Times of Crisis

During the COVID-19 pandemic, companies that lead with empathy and genuinely address customer needs can strengthen relationships.

by Fabricio Dore, Oliver Ehrlich, David Malfara, and Kelly Ungerman