The COVID-19 pandemic turned the world of work upside down, tremendously impacting businesses and their employees around the world. Governments are responding to this new landscape through economic stimulus packages as well as weighing reopening options. For the U.K., a new report on unemployment calls for a government response to redirect skills funding to get people back to work. At the same time, the U.K. is trying to attract skilled talent from abroad through a new “Office for Talent.”
Research released by City & Guilds Group titled “The Recovery and Resilience Report” surveyed 2,000 working and non-working adults in the U.K. It forecasted unemployment to reach 4.5 million by the end of this year, corresponding with a 30% fall in job postings between February and May. The report aims to shed light on access to support structures, and reveals that 33% of people from lower socio-economic backgrounds state that they can’t afford skills training and 26% are less likely to know how to access funding to pay for a skills training course. Those numbers rise to 59% and 43%, respectively, for those already unemployed.
The report outlines three major recommendations to remedy these problems. First, it calls for the release of £3 billion in unspent National Skills Fund (NSF) to support post-COVID reskilling, broadening the Adult Education Budget criteria to support online and flexible reskill training, and extending the Apprenticeship Levy funds to support short-term training and wages for younger workers. Second, it calls on employers and education providers to usher in digital and online learning tools. Finally, it calls for using some of the NSF to create “Lifelong Learning & Employment Hubs” within regional areas facing high unemployment.
These recommendations aim to get to the root of unemployment and skills development within the U.K. In addition to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s calls for a COVID-19 “new deal” to revitalize the economy, the government released its own research-based roadmap that calls for attracting skilled talent from abroad. Published on 1 July, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s roadmap calls for the creation of an Office for Talent that will work with businesses and research institutions to attract researchers and scientists to the U.K. It also aims to attract British talent who moved abroad back to the U.K.
As the world continues to grapple with changes ushered in by the COVID-19 pandemic, these efforts combine to form a roadmap to economic recovery that focuses on the needs of domestic talent while working to attract talent from abroad. Doing so ensures that workforce mobility is at the center of economic recovery in the U.K. while at the same time, setting talent up for success.
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