We are slowly resuming life before lockdown but the ‘new normal’ is on the horizon and a cloud of uncertainty continues to shadow the apprenticeship market. So, what is being done to ensure the success of apprenticeships going forward?
Speculation coupled with a lack of substantial facts has done nothing to cure the uncertainty currently felt by many. However, examples of apprenticeship providers overcoming concerns about the ‘new normal’ are already emerging, setting the precedent that fear is not the solution, but development and innovation are!
The effects of the pandemic
September is the beginning of the educational year and it is also seen as the peak month for the recruitment of apprenticeships. The next twelve weeks will prove crucial for apprenticeship providers - in how they develop and innovate their delivery and assessment of apprenticeship standards.
We need to ensure apprentices are receiving the highest quality of teaching available, whilst also maintaining safety and wellbeing advice between students and teachers. This may present a daunting obstacle for some providers, especially with each standard posing potentially different issues.
Transitioning to home learning
The recent consensus surrounding homeworking has been largely positive. Reduction in travel, an improved work life balance and arguably an increase in productivity, has collectively contributed to a widening of people’s perception to the benefits of working from home. If homeworking has been such a success, surely ‘home-learning’ can follow suit.
One university in the Midlands displayed a positive adaptation to apprenticeship delivery. The university reacted quickly and efficiently during the COVID-19 pandemic, transferring the whole programme online, including the two-day induction. This meant that in April 2020, 27 students started on a Senior Leader Executive MBA and MSc Management Apprenticeships
Some challenges were discussed by learners during their induction and feedback included a lack of face to face communication and an uncertainty of the future. However, these were feelings being expressed by many during the pandemic regardless of the new home learning. This case exemplifies the success that changes to apprenticeship delivery can have for other providers.
Embracing the ‘new normal’
Although not all apprenticeship standards appear to have potential for ‘home learning’, the majority do. The standards that may be trickier to adapt (particularly those requiring hands on activities) call for innovative thinking.
It must be possible to continue to deliver apprenticeship standards to a high level and to a substantial cohort. Social distancing may force some standards to reduce their numbers in the immediate future, however changes to learning environments are already taking place. One-way systems, floor tape for social distancing, cleaning stations, individual equipment, redesign of classrooms, outdoor learning and staggered timetables are just some techniques that can be implemented to allow for a safe return to educational environments.
The ‘new normal’ in apprenticeships will differ with each standard, but we know that technology will become indispensable in how the majority of courses are delivered, social distancing will become ordinary, environments will be redesigned and become familiar. Change is a difficult process for many, but we are more than capable of adapting. With perseverance and positivity, apprenticeships can be one of the most valuable resources in supporting the nation and its population moving forward into a stronger economy with a greater array of qualified personnel.
Our HR Services team are here to help you, providing guidance and support with any apprenticeship challenges or requirements. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team!