by Emily Jones
While the coronavirus pandemic is primarily a public health crisis, it has also resulted in economic challenges, including a spike in unemployment. Now that the economy has reopened, there are signs that the labour market is recovering, with employment on the rise and the number of online vacancies above pre-crisis levels.
The economic impacts of the pandemic haven’t been equally distributed, with differences by geography and sector, exacerbating inequalities that pre-date the pandemic. And in the early stages of recovery, sectoral and geographical variations remain. Some employers are finding it hard to recruit staff despite increased unemployment, more than one million people are working part-time because they can’t find full-time jobs, and there has been a sharp rise in the number of people in temporary work involuntarily.
As the economy recovers, many people will need employment support and to retrain into different careers to ensure they can make the most of the opportunities ahead. This was one of the key themes at Learning and Work Institute’s Employment and Skills Convention last month, including in the keynotes from Kate Green MP and Mims Davies MP.
Addressing these challenges requires local partnerships. We recently launched Learning and Work Institute’s flagship programme, New Futures. New Futures is funded by the Covid-19 Support Fund and will support workers affected by the pandemic to retrain for new jobs. Five place-based pilots (two in England and one each in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) will be tailored to reflect the needs of local labour markets and the skills of local populations.
While the evidence on what works in helping people to retrain into new jobs and sectors is currently limited, three themes can be identified from the evidence:
Working with a range of local partners, including local government, employers, training providers and community organisations, the programme will:
We are working with local partners to design the pilots and delivery will commence later this year. The pilots and evaluation will run until the end of 2023.
Emily Jones is Head of Research at Learning and Work Institute