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UK jobseekers upskill to improve prospects: Reed

Six out of ten British people made redundant as a result of the pandemic are hopeful they will find a similar role this year, indicating a strong wave of optimism among the nation’s jobseekers.

A new survey of just over 1,500 people by job site also reveals that 25-44 year olds are especially confident about their ability to find a suitable new role, and that jobseekers are becoming increasingly pro-active in a competitive market.

Two thirds of people who took part in the study completed online courses to learn new skills in 2020, fuelling a 64% increase in enrolment for Reed’s online courses in November and December compared to the same period in 2019. Nine out of ten plan to use these new skills to find work this year.

Overall, the most popular courses during November and December were ‘Essential IT Skills Level 2’, which attracted 7,813 students, followed by ‘Business and Administration Level 2’ (5,271) and ‘Level 2 Certificate in Counselling Skills’ (4,005). The courses with the greatest annual increases included ‘Leadership & Management’, which rose 3,074% year-on-year, followed by ‘British Sign Language (BSL) Level 1 & 2’ (1894%) and ‘Office Admin and Reception Skills’ (904%), suggesting workers were preparing for a return to the office and practising more specialist skills to differentiate their CVs from those of other candidates.

REED Chairman James Reed says it is encouraging to see that so many workers are upskilling and reskilling in response to the challenges posed by the pandemic. “As the vaccine roll-out gathers pace and the economy starts to reopen, these extra skills will prove crucial to improving people’s job prospects – especially in such a competitive jobs market,” he says.

Apprenticeship reform

As the UK celebrates Apprenticeship Week, Apsco has called for a review of apprenticeships to better accommodate the flexible workforce.

“Training and developing workers is going to be a key part of the future economic growth of the country and in the week that we celebrate apprentices, it’s important to also highlight how this on-the-job learning scheme can be improved to support the more flexible world of work,” said Tania Bowers, Legal Counsel and Head of Public Policy at APSCo. “In our view, it really is important that apprenticeships are extended to contingent workers - including contract professionals – to support this crucially valuable flexible segment of the workforce and help them develop skills in line with the changing business environment.”

“We’ve welcomed the measures that have been announced to provide some flexibility to apprenticeships over the last ten months. However, if the UK is to build the flexible skills it needs, how training is delivered must reflect this fluidity and that includes allowing the use of the apprenticeship levy for more adaptable training. Portable apprenticeships that workers can carry across businesses, access to schemes for agency workers and a more flexible use of lifelong learning are just a few examples that should be seriously considered in order to drive a positive impact for both the economy and individuals alike.”

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