Early September saw Welsh Government publish figures on apprentices who have been furloughed and/or made redundant as a result of the Covid19 crisis. The figures make for uncomfortable, though not unexpected reading. 4,930 apprentices were listed as furloughed on 28 August 2020 with 50 having had their apprenticeships terminated due to redundancy. Despite this, the number of furloughed apprentices had fallen by 2,835 (37%) from a peak of 7,770 on 29 May 2020 with 195 having been made redundant but remaining in learning whilst their provider tried to source alternative employment.*
Learners most affected
The apprentices most affected are noted as being young, male, white or mixed race, with the leisure, sport and travel, hair and beauty, and hospitality industries taking the biggest hit. Those employed in the private sector or in companies of less than 50 employees have also been affected more than others. Lower level apprenticeships have been more affected than higher apprenticeships with those who self-identify as having a 'primary disability and/or learning difficulty' also faring worse than their peers.
Figures up to March 2020 also show that the number of young people not in education, employment or training (NEETs) has also increased in the last two years**, a figure that is likely to be compounded further as direct result of the Covid19 pandemic.
Chair of ColegauCymru Strategic WBL Group Barry Walters said,
“The statistics paint a bleak picture which does not bode well for economic recovery post-Covid. Further education colleges are however in a strong position to be able to provide different, innovative and workable solutions in this space. The government response needs to be flexible and adaptable, recognising the Covid19 has brought with it new challenges where the old ways of working are no longer always appropriate.”
We’re now at a critical point where the effects of the Coronavirus crisis are being felt far and wide, not only by individuals but by their communities and the wider economy. The importance of apprenticeships and work-based learning to aid economic recovery post-Covid will be essential. Continued investment and flexible support is vital. On a practical level, our member colleges are continuing to work with employers to ensure that apprenticeship learners have suitable employment and are able to continue with their studies wherever possible.
ColegauCymru Chief Executive Iestyn Davies, added,
“We’re committed to working together with government colleagues, employers and other partners to ensure that sufficient support is provided, both now and as we continue into what is likely to be a challenging and uncertain 12 months.”
Welsh Government Statistics
* Apprentices furloughed or made redundant during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic: up to 28 August 2020
8 September 2020
Welsh Government Statistics
** Young people not in education, employment or training (NEET): April 2019 to March 2020
30 July 2020