"Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together." - Marilyn Monroe

Restart your career

If you're one of the thousands who have been furloughed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, what should you do next? And could you turn your furlough experience into a career opportunity?

If you are in this situation, what options do you have? Do you persevere and hope things will eventually return to normal...or do you know, deep down, that this may not happen? Should you look for a new job now, or think big and chase your long-held aspiration to start something new?

As it stands, thousands of people in the UK are already finding themselves out of work. Others are being protected from this fate - for now - by the government's furlough scheme, putting them in a state of employment. But with the Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme ending soon, the threat of redundancy is looming ever closer for furloughed employees.

Furlough figures - September 2020

What should you do if you're one of the people affected by this situation? You may be feeling very stressed right now, but the end of furlough could also be your opportunity to begin something new - something far more rewarding than the 'normal' that you knew before.

The furlough scheme is due to end on 31 October, so there's no time to waste. Here are 5 steps that you should consider:

 

1. Contact your employer if you haven't already done so.

Don't be afraid - even if you've barely spoken to your employer while you haven't been working, you can still get in touch now to request some details about your situation and the company itself. You may even wish to ask how the economic forecast is shaping up; does it look like the business will still be able to employ you after October, once the furlough safety net has been taken away?

 

2. Take some time to reflect.

Really focus on what you desire from your life. Think about your career and your professional needs: what do you want to do now, and which direction do want to go in?

 

3. Consider whether you really want to return to your old job.

Ask yourself simple, direct questions: 'Am I happy to return to this job if it's still there? Is this genuinely the career I want, the work I find most fulfilling? Can I see a long-term future for this industry and my place in it?'

 

4. Plan your next steps.

If redundancy is inevitable - or if you've decided that, regardless of whether your position remains secure, you don't want to go back to the old normal - then it's time to think about what you want to do next. Do you take this opportunity to retrain and learn some new skills? Identify what knowledge and qualifications you'll need to make your dream career a reality, then find out how best to reach the required level.

 

5. Look for a clear, realistic career path.

Above all, look for the path that will lead to real opportunities in an area that's sustainable and growing. Whether you're looking to reboot or switch careers entirely, now is a great time to dream big and start building a new picture of your future career.

 

Sometimes, the most important decisions are the ones made for us. As daunting and unprecedented as the current crisis is, it could be your springboard to improved career prospects, especially if you have a long-term goal or ambition that didn't seem realistic before.

Inevitably, emotion will be a factor when you're asking yourself the big questions. It's impossible to provide a detached, purely rational answer to questions like 'If my profession ceased to exist, what career would I want to pursue instead?' or 'How can I reinvent myself?' If you've always thought about re-skilling (or up-skilling) but didn't have the inclination or the need a year ago, now may be the perfect time to take that leap, but use your head to think clearly - don't be swayed entirely by your emotions.

Ultimately, life is never without its difficulties, and there are bound to be setbacks along the way. We can't plan for every single occurrence, but what matters is how you bounce back and move forward. There's always light at the end of the tunnel, and this crisis won't last forever.

Learn your trade. Get qualified. Make it happen.

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further education

At the Annual Conservative Party Conference, held in September 2019, the Education Secretary Gavin Williamson addressed ‘the forgotten fifty per cent’: the portion of the UK’s population which is ‘often overlooked’ when it comes to educational avenues and investment. He stressed the importance of ‘vocational education’ by arguing that it is ‘just as valuable as University education’, and indeed ‘just as important to our economy’; in short, he said that a large portion of the population had been ‘forgotten’ and ‘ignored’ by our education system.

 

Fast forward to his statement in July 2020, and these words have acquired an urgency which resonates with us now more than ever. ‘The tragedy is that for decades we have forgotten about half of our education system’, he writes, while making ‘a commitment to stand for the forgotten 50%’. It is a commitment on which the future of our economy and construction industries depends.

 

Some context: way back in 1999, Prime Minister Tony Blair made it his government’s priority to ensure that 50% of the population attended university, a target which was reached in 2017-18, where 50.2% of students went on to study at university. As ambitious and well-meaning as Blair’s target seemed back in 1999, it certainly bodes the question: what about the other 50%?

 

How we're helping the forgotten 50%

Of course, Access Training has been asking the same questions for years: what about the 50% who don’t consider going to university to be a viable or favourable option? What about those who are perfectly cut out for a career in the trades industry, who need the services we provide to prepare them for the future? What about those highly practical and skilled individuals who are now so crucial to propping up our economy?

 

These are the people that Access Training caters for, and Mr Williamson’s long-overdue call for more investment in training programmes proves that our finger has been on the pulse since the very beginning.

 

But most importantly, we must ask whether university degrees actually deliver the benefits we are told they do? Not so, according to Mr Williamson, who notes the fact that ‘five years after completion, the average Higher Technical Apprentice earns more than the average graduate’. This statistic is earth-shattering to the notion that a university education provides a more dependable route to a lucrative career – and so why have we been peddling it for decades?

 

The truth is, the overwhelming focus of the Department of Education in recent decades has been on reaching pointless statistical landmarks without questioning their value, and as a result, half of the country’s student population has been left out of the equation. No equivalent investment has been made in the futures of the forgotten 50% – despite the fact that apprenticeships and vocational tradespeople often earn more than their graduate counterparts, there is still a massive skills shortage in the construction industry: as of October 2019, 40% of construction trades experienced their highest skills shortages since 2013. Our job is to fill that gap – by treating the trades as a secondary or lower form of education, it’s looking like a steep hill to climb.

 

So after two decades, the forgotten 50% are back in the limelight. But despite Mr Williamson’s commendable emphasis on the ‘need for upskilling, reskilling and retraining’, he fails to draw his attention to the current work of Independent Training Providers who have been supplying these crucial services for years already. It is what the country needs, and it is our ticket to salvaging our economy and future job markets. In short, it’s what we need to ‘get Britain working again'.

 

Since the onset of the pandemic, Access Training has transformed its technical and vocational training into an online portal, available to everyone, anywhere, for however long they need it. It is precisely this ability to provide what Mr Williamson calls ‘flexible, practical training’ which makes our educational model so effective and popular with our students, and perfectly matches Mr Williamson’s vision for the future – right now in the present.

 

The future of reskilling and retraining is already here – enquire today about a course with Access Training.

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University lecture theatre

Stability and confidence are key in the academic world. But these things are virtually impossible to guarantee during a pandemic, and it's clear that UK universities will need considerable time to adapt to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. How can you expect to thrive in your educational journey without the assurance of your tutors? Without interacting with your peers? Without a clear sense of direction?

The truth is that the future of universities and higher academic culture remains very, very unclear. Once the coronavirus is firmly under control, will we see a return to normality? Will campus-based university education continue to be the mainstream educational model? Or will universities recognise the far-reaching benefits of home learning and restructure their courses to include face-to-face elements only where necessary?

Our money is on the latter.

 

The problem facing universities

You don't have to look too hard to notice the long-term uncertainty that's looming over the university establishment. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Universities UK lobbied the UK government for 'a transformation fund to support universities' during the next 2 to 3 years. Quite clearly, the higher education sector in this country is due to undergo a massive infrastructural transformation that's likely to last at least the length of a degree itself.

The unavoidable consequence of this is an inevitable crushing impact on the educational experiences of the next generation's students. The Times also offers some highly concerning statistics, noting that (according to data from CV-Library) graduate job openings are already down 60% on last year, and even non-graduate job opportunities have 'plummeted'. Why go to university if you can't be reasonably sure of getting a job at the end of it?

The Resolution Foundation think tank also reminds us that 800,000 young people have left full-time education since the onset of the pandemic. What lies in store for their futures? How are they supposed to navigate a crumbling job market and a recession when the usual order of things has been turned on its head?

As if this all weren't bad enough, the Financial Times has questioned whether universities will be able to support themselves financially, predicting 'extreme pressure on universities' and 'significant restructuring' to come. This is due in part to the 'sharp decline of international students' and school leavers hesitating in the face of the 'uncertain value of the education they may receive'.

Troubling? Certainly. But is this the case for all educational institutions? Absolutely not.

 

How we've overcome this challenge

Fortunately, Access Training has already adapted to the problems posed by COVID-19. We now offer hybrid-style courses that integrate online teaching with essential practical training.

By having the foresight to make a swift departure from the traditional methods of teaching upheld by universities and colleges, we have already ensured that working systems are in place to offer an overwhelmingly positive learning experience - just read our reviews!

The FT also offers the following astute prediction:

"The aftermath of coronavirus will both accelerate existing trends and provide an opportunity to rethink the nature of education and the ways it is delivered to make it more accessible, affordable, and relevant for the challenges of the coming decades."

At Access Training, we firmly believe that the educational path we offer is a nod to this new future of learning. We have taken the opportunity to refocus our educational model to ensure massive advantages to our student audience, and we've found the winning formula - we now reach many more students than before, we're using the most direct and efficient teaching methods around, and satisfaction levels are skyrocketing.

A course of us will guarantee you stability in a time of uncertainty, and opportunities in a world of dead ends. So why go to university? Enquire for a course today.

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An alternative path

Wondering what alternatives to university there are? You're not alone! The past year has been full of chaos and upheaval for young people in the UK. Exams have been disrupted and results have been downgraded, so it's no surprise that thousands of GCSE and A-Level students across the country are now scrambling around for other ways to make the transition from school to further education. That's where we come in. So, if you're wondering what to do instead of university, just keep reading!

 

COVID-19 has caused huge problems for schools and universities

As you know, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused massive ruptures all around the world, turning our daily lives upside down. Universities and schools cannot operate in the traditional way, and face-to-face contact between teachers and students is, for the foreseeable future, a thing of the past. It's no surprise that young people are seeking out alternatives to university.

To make matters worse, the large-scale downgrading of results means that many students have missed out on university and college places. Some of these young people have responded by reluctantly accepting places on courses that aren't quite right for them - it's not ideal, but it has become the painful reality for a whole generation of ambitious, hard-working youngsters. But is there a better alternative to a degree?

 

What could you do instead of university?

Access Training offers the kind of education that will prove invaluable in this time of crisis when skills and experience are valued above all else. Even during the oncoming recession, British people will still need the skills and expertise of labourers and tradespeople.

The Federation for Industry Sector Skills and Standards have appealed to the government to ensure that training facilities for young tradespeople are protected during the pandemic. The Chief Executive of the Federation, Mark Lambert, stresses the crucial importance of a high-skilled young labour workforce to deal with the oncoming recession and says:

"Unless we act fast...we will be failing thousands of people whose talents will be needed to reskill the workforce and repair the UK economy once this crisis is over."

Not only is the trades industry strong and in high enough demand to survive the latest upheaval, but according to Lambert, it's exactly what we need to save the country from economic downfall. So what better way to secure the future of young people than by gifting them with permanently valuable skills?

 

How we've responded to the COVID-19 pandemic

Access Training's teaching model has adapted to this year of upheaval with great success. Not only have we ensured the continuation of high teaching standards and outcomes - you can check our reviews and pass rates for proof - but we've actually improved upon our pre-coronavirus records. By moving the majority of our training online, we have made sure that each individual student receives all of our attention and expertise at a time that is convenient for them. And they have been reaping the rewards!

So ask yourself this serious question: why bother spending thousands on an insubstantial and perhaps inefficiently-taught university degree when you could use this time of great uncertainty to develop vocation skills that are - and always will be - essential to the country's economy? Why wait another debt-ridden three years when you can begin working and earning as a qualified professional within months?

Get in touch with Access Training to find out more about our trade training courses - we'll take it from there.

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