Championing employability in the post-Covid world

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The Covid-19 pandemic has placed a strain on all sectors of our economy, and whilst short-term schemes have prevented crisis-levels of unemployment in Britain, the impacts of the pandemic have not been distributed evenly.

Throughout history, in times of economic instability, young people have been some of the most affected. They frequently are the first to lose their jobs and remain unemployed for longer, resulting in potential long-lasting effects on their future careers. At the start of the coronavirus outbreak, one in three workers aged below 25, excluding students, lost their jobs or were furloughed, compared to one in six prime-age adults.

From June to August, the youth unemployment rate was 13.1%, up from 10.8% the previous year – compared to 4.8% of the general population. The coronavirus pandemic threatens to severely disrupt the career progression of this generation, with potential negative economic impacts on this age group lasting well beyond the pandemic itself.

“In the long term, the economic shock caused by the pandemic is highly likely to increase inequality between young and old, between higher and lower earners, and between those on secure and insecure contracts.” – The University of Cambridge, Faculty of Economics

What does the future look like for Millennials/Gen-Z?

The key to reviving post-Covid Britain is ensuring that young people develop the specific skills to keep pace with the future of work and which businesses will require to help their organisations recover their losses and move forward into our uncertain future. Before last March, employers were facing a skills shortage, with the 2017 Department for Education’s last Employer Skills Survey showing 226,000 skills-shortage vacancies, followed by The Open University’s ‘Bridging the Digital Divide’ report in 2019 showing that 88% of organisations in Britain were lacking in digital skills, with many expecting this to increase in the next five years.

“The problem is that many people who are in low-paid work – or who aren’t working at all – aren’t able to access the information they need to plan for the future or the relevant training they need to gain new skills.” – Nesta

During the last 10 months we have seen over two years’ worth of digital transformation through the rapid adoption of technology. Now, digital initiatives have become digital imperatives. There is an urgent need for HR leaders to work with their CEO, CFO and CIO to rethink skills needs as business models continue to evolve at such a rapid pace. It is no longer enough for governments to train young people with generic skills which are unlikely to result in long-term job prospects. Many organisations are starting to recognise that they need to take the initiative and help to bridge the market skills gap, with corporate social responsibility and sustainability now becoming core drivers alongside more traditional growth objectives.

Responsible transformation should be the mantra for today’s organisations. This means reviewing their resourcing agendas to harness all the support available to ensure opportunities are created for all parts of our society. One great example of this is using the opportunities presented by apprenticeships, including the additional incentives available to organisations hiring young people. The government’s Build Back Better agenda is putting apprenticeships and flexible vocational skills acquisition at the centre of supporting young people back to work and every organisation has the opportunity to get involved. Putting learning at the heart of everything we do will ensure that our young talent, however disadvantaged by the pandemic, has the opportunity to learn the skills they need to succeed, support the economic recovery and be equipped for the future of work.

How can we help?

At Capita we take pride in leading the debate on employability, embedding a whole skills system. This includes supporting young people in getting a start in the workplace through Kickstart, and helping experienced workers learn new skills, stay relevant and progress in their careers.

Our Novus Programme trains recent graduates in areas such as project management and cyber security, and then provides them with job assignments to blue-chip clients, across a variety of sectors, for up to two years.

Through the Capita Academy, we support 900 apprenticeships around the UK and are committed to reaching 1,400 next year. Our apprenticeships range from Level 3 to Level 7 and give young people the chance to hone their skills and get valuable experience in the workplace.

Capita Learning supports employers to deliver large-scale apprenticeship programmes, with some 6,000 apprentices currently in learning across many government departments on programmes such as customer service and project management, from Level 3 to Level 5. We also work with fire and rescue services, delivering firefighter apprenticeships at Level 3 from our world leading Fire Service College.

Every year we help thousands of people gain new qualifications online through our Vision2Learn digital platform. With a range of fully-funded nationally=accredited e-learning courses, studying with vision2learn is a flexible and convenient way to update skills, reskill or multiskill. It helps boost CVs and enables young people to stay current in the labour market.

We also partner with our corporate charity partners, TeachFirst and Young Enterprise, to encourage our people to volunteer their time to help young people with employability and entrepreneurial skills. For employers we help organisations access key skills and assist millions of UK workers with skill development and job placement.

We need to place young people at the top of the list of priorities when it comes to supporting people back to work post-Covid, and we’re committed to playing an important role in this.

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