Recovery and Resilience

City & Guilds calls for urgent action from Government to redirect skills funding to help people back into employment.

01 July 2020

Our latest research, The Recovery and Resilience report, which includes a survey undertaken by YouGov for City & Guilds amongst 2,000 working and non-working adults in the UK, looks at jobs and skills during the pandemic and found that people from lower socio-economic groups were less likely to believe that they have the support needed to get a new job in several critical areas:

  • Using support from my personal contacts –24% C2DE vs 35% ABC1
  • Using support from previous employer –18% C2DE vs 28% ABC1
  • Using support from a recruitment consultant –18% C2DE vs 29% ABC1
  • In addition, 14% of respondents from lower socio-economic groups stated they just don’t know what to do to enable them to get a new job. 

The report found that affordability was a key blocker preventing people from undertaking vital training and skills development to get back into employment. 33% of people from lower socio-economic backgrounds stated that they could not afford training and they are also less likely to know how to access funding to pay for a course (26%). These figures rise to 59% and 43% respectively amongst people who are already unemployed. 

Unemployment is forecast to double to 4.5 million  by the end of this year, with young people and those from lower socio-economic groups expected to bear the brunt of the fall . New analysis from economists at Emsi, included in today’s report, reveals that new job postings fell by 30% between February and May. According to analysis from Emsi, those from lower-socio economic groups work disproportionately in the industries thought to be most at risk of mass redundancies, such as retail, catering and hospitality. However, these worse off groups are also less likely to be able to access the support structures that the more affluent can rely upon if they are made redundant. 

Kirstie Donnelly MBE, CEO at City & Guilds, commented: “As we get the country back on the road to recovery and set employment levels on the right trajectory, it is critical that we act now to provide lifelines for those most in need. From supporting those from lower socio-economic groups and young people who we know will be most badly impacted by the spike in unemployment through to supporting people from industries in decline as a result of the pandemic to retrain into new roles.

“To counter the mass unemployment which, left unchecked, will scar the futures of a generation, we are calling on the Government to urgently redirect existing skills funding to ensure that the budgets set aside for further education are being allocated in the right way, with the right focus to support skills development that promotes social mobility. There is no more time to consult, we have both the means to make this happen and the evidence to prove how much it is needed. This is our ‘Act Now’ moment.”

With the skills needed for the jobs that are available also changing in light of new ways of working and new technologies, the research also finds that people have a worrying lack of awareness about what training would be most beneficial: a fifth (18%) of all workers – and 25% of the unemployed – are unsure of the skills or qualifications they need in order to find a new role. 

The three main recommendations outlined in the report are:

  1. Urgently redirect existing skills funding to save us from losing a whole generation of lost workers:
    1. Release £3bn of unspent National Skills Fund (NSF) to support post-Covid reskilling
    2. Broaden the Adult Education Budget criteria to support bite-sized, online and flexible learning to quickly retrain people back into work
    3. Extend Apprenticeship Levy funds to support traineeships and use any underspent levy to pay apprentices wages in the short term, focused on younger apprentices who are more likely to be unemployed
  2. A call on employers and education providers to work together to forefront digital transformation through digital skills investment and online learning tools, with the right investment from Government to allow this to happen.
  3. Use some of the NSF to create ‘Lifelong Learning & Employment Hubs’ within the regional areas most impacted by unemployment to act as a ‘one-stop-skills-and-jobs-shop’, to support reskilling back into meaningful employment.

Read the full report

About the research

Research was commissioned by City & Guilds and undertaken by YouGov amongst a sample of 2080 adults between 10th – 11th June. All figures have been weighted and are representative of UK adults (aged 18+). The survey was carried out online.

Additional analysis of UK job postings and how demand for skills and occupations changed between February and May 2020 was provided by economists at Emsi.