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Addressing the impact of COVID-19 on post-16 education

In light of the ongoing situation with COVID-19, there has been a great deal of disruption across the education sector at all levels, the impact of which will be felt long into the next academic year and possibly beyond.

In a new discussion paper published jointly with Campaign for Learning (CfL), education policy consultant, Mark Corney, and Director of Policy and External Relations at Holex, Dr Susan Pember OBE, look at the likely impact of the COVID-19 crisis on post-16 education, the economy and labour market, and outline an action plan to address the consequences for jobs, apprenticeships, youth unemployment and adult retraining.

Planning for a “very different September”

The paper warns of a “very different September” to the one the Department for Education and the Department for Work and Pensions planned for way back in January, requiring a “different mix of provision and financial support”.

By September, the economy could be 15% smaller and unemployment 1.5m higher reaching 2.75m. Despite the welcome and generous wage subsidy programmes introduced by the government, we can expect there to be fewer businesses as some go bust including levy and non-levy payers funding apprenticeships.

There will also be an extra 54,000 16 and 17 year olds from September who will need to meet the duty to participate in education and training. Nearly 450,000 18-24 year olds will be leaving full-time further and higher education flooding the labour market in search of jobs in September.

But adults aged 25 and over will also be impacted by unemployment from September, and looking for ways to support themselves and their families. What’s more, many adults who retain their jobs during the summer will put earning before training and retraining by working longer hours and taking extra jobs to protect household incomes.

Recommending courses of action – finding solutions

The central recommendation from the paper is that the Department for Education and the Department for Work and Pensions should develop a joint post-16 education, skills and employment plan for England.

Commenting on the paper’s findings, Dr Susan Pember OBE, one of the authors yesterday said:

“This paper underlines the fact that there is no time to lose in addressing the challenges that the further education sector will face at the start of the new academic year. It isn’t designed to scare people, but by considering the worst-case scenario and potential remedies, we hope to spark further debate, get sector leaders, policymakers and influencers thinking about what comes next and frame priorities as we look to the future.”

The full ‘COVID-19 and post-16 education - planning for a 'very different' September’ discussion paper is available to view and download now.


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