By Emma Stewart
As we enter this year’s Lifelong Learning Week, we should recognise that what this event stands for is more relevant than ever. The pandemic is having a drastic effect on the economy; the CEBR has predicted that just under three million people may be unemployed by Christmas, and whole sectors, including retail, hospitality and travel, are struggling for survival. For the people caught up in the fallout, being supported to retrain, and find new roles, will be life-changing.
My organisation, Timewise, is a flexible working specialist, with the simple aim of making good jobs flexible, and flexible jobs good. We know that many people who are losing their jobs need flexibility in order to work. And we have always believed that the jobs market needs to accommodate those who need to flex, and help them improve their skills and progress.
It’s for this reason, even before the pandemic hit, that we explored the potential of part-time apprenticeships. Having discovered that fewer than 1 in 10 apprenticeships were part-time, which was shutting out key groups who needed to work flexibly, we designed and developed a pilot with Camden Council, Hackney Council and LNWH NHS Trust. And our insights make useful reading for anyone who is keen to support employees to ‘learn while they earn’.
The pilot highlighted three main barriers to the creation of part-time apprenticeships:
With barriers such as these to overcome, it’s no surprise that part-time apprenticeships are so rare. Nevertheless, our pilot did result in the creation of a number of schemes, and the successful recruitment of 10 part-time apprentices. Here are our key learnings, which could help other employers who to take a similar path.
There’s clearly a role for government here; the Apprenticeships Levy needs to be able to be more flexibly applied. But employers who embrace part-time apprenticeships will not just get a return on their Levy payments; they will also give timely support to the people who need it most.
Emma Stewart is CEO at Timewise, a flexible working specialist, with the simple aim of making good jobs flexible, and flexible jobs good.