The UK is battling a global pandemic which has wide reaching effects for all parts of our society. For employers, it has seen them left with making difficult decisions about all parts of their operations – including their apprentices and staff undergoing training.
As lockdown is set to ease up, we’ve been helping our clients navigate their marketing, communications and sales plans for apprenticeship employer engagement, and how the next few months look set to pan out.
These are the top four trends we think will matter.
#1: Employee engagement
Data already suggests that 800,000 companies have applied to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to cover wages for over 6,000,0000 jobs. The impact of furloughing is likely to have an impact on both those furloughed, and those retained in the workplace.
For staff coming back into the workplace, they may well feel isolated and singled-out for having been furloughed in the first place whilst other members of their team continued to work.
Colleagues who have remained unfurloughed may feel the pressure of having been burdened with additional work whilst their business operates on a reduced workforce. In these cases, there might be a level of animosity towards furloughed colleagues returning to work after what they view as an “extended break”.
Utilising apprenticeships to train the existing workforce allows the whole team to come together, set new strategies, and begin to collaborate and re-integrate. Providing training may restore faith in employees that the business has their best interests at heart, and there is an investment in their future.
#2 Impact of redundancy and resignation
Businesses in air travel have already begun restructuring programmes to ensure businesses survival. In industries where the impact of the lockdown being lifted is less clear, businesses are also planning redundancies with the aim of business continuity.
In other industries, several experts cite Covid-19 as a catalyst of digital transformation for many, the full extent of which won’t be realised for months. However, as with all transformation programmes, it will mean that the roles and functions that were once required are no longer fit for purpose. But what new roles and skills will be required to evolve the transformation?
As well as the impact on inevitable job losses, those that have been able to take time to reflect on their situation may well down tools and resign. Young parents realise they are missing out on their children growing up by working and want a change. Ageing workforces might opt for an early retirement because the last few months have shown how precious and short life can be.
Recruiting apprentices into these workplaces provides a perfect opportunity to can help bridge these gaps and bring new talent and skills into the workplace.
#3 Redeployment and new ways of working
Some colleagues will be redeployed as a result of Covid-19, most likely to new roles and functions which could well be created out of the changes to the ways businesses operate, driven by changing customer and purchasing behaviours.
For those individuals where there is a significant change to their job, this is likely to be a challenge, due to the lack of training often offered by businesses. Even more so from a business under intense pressure to perform and make up for lost time.
For those charged with managing and leading a team without adequate training, a new round of accidental managers are born, draining productivity rather than adding to it.
Apprenticeships provide the opportunity to retrain existing employees into new roles. With more programmes and levels than before (which are more closely aligned to job roles), the opportunity to train the way to productivity does exist.
#4 Career progression
Business news over the past few weeks has been peppered with updates that organisations are doing their best to keep their workforces working, with pay cuts in industries that are slowing down either now or soon. Even in industries that appear to be relatively unaffected by the pandemic, pay freezes and promotions are on hold. Something we’ll probably see until the end of the financial year at the earliest.
For larger businesses where pay and promotion plays a key role in workforce development and talent management, being able to tap into their apprenticeship levy fund is where they can utilise the tax to benefit their workforce.
The investment in training and development through apprenticeships is sizeable, particularly when considering higher and degree level apprenticeships, and this is another tool to keep employees engaged and working hard in what is set to be a tough few months (at least).
So what should you do?
The opportunity within the apprenticeship marketplace exists, and will continue to evolve in the coming months. For training providers, student numbers on traditional provision is already forecasted to take a hit, including the impact on international students coming to study and live in the UK later in 2020. For that reason, apprenticeships look set to be part of the solution to plug the income gap for many colleges, universities and private training providers.
The insight and intelligence we’ve seen show a clear logic to continue to engage with these potential employers and let them know how you can help. If you’re not already doing this, you should start.
As the UK's lockdown measures relax and businesses start to make decisions, the tone of the message is everything. You have to get it right.
For the past fifteen years we’ve been supporting clients to achieve apprenticeship success, from data planning to direct selling - and everything else in between.
If you’re looking for an agency that can blend best of breed marketing communications with high-performance data, telephony, and insight to give you sales growth, then give us a call and we’ll help you to craft your strategy and messaging to navigate the next few months.
Liam McNally, Business Development Director