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From Solicitor to Plumber: How people are retraining to cope during the coronavirus pandemic

ITV News, 24th September 2020

Access Training is being featured on an ITV Tonight special programme presented by Robert Peston titled, ‘Can We Save Our Jobs’, investigating the prospects of life after furlough. The programme, as you will see, highlights the trials and tribulations of the last 6 months of furlough: the stress of having no work, the strain of having to provide for your family, and the hopelessness of a jobless future. 

But it’s not all doom and gloom.



"Anybody who's lost their job... my advice is don't be afraid. With hard work and the right training... you can do anything that you want."

Jimmy Adkins, Access Training Academies Tutor speaking to Robert Peston from ITV



The programme details a range of students already at Access Training, who have made the wise decision to begin a career in the trade industry, as a result of the large-scale effects of Covid-19. They have left their rapidly sinking jobs and have retrained as anything they wanted, regardless of their experience: cab drivers becoming plumbers, chefs becoming gas engineers – even solicitors are jumping on the bandwagon. If that’s not a sign for optimism and hope, then I don’t know what is. 

Talking to Peston, our gas tutor Jimmy Adkins gives an excellent summary of the situation, detailing how construction courses are now in such high demand.

 

"It went absolutely crazy. Guys who’ve come from all sorts of backgrounds, taxi drivers, entertainment, even to the point where I’ve had some solicitors because they’re unsure of whether they’re ever going to go back to working in the office."

 

One of our students, Chris Kruger, was also interviewed for the programme. Chris recently left his job as a chef, citing job uncertainty as the main reason for the decision. He speaks of the ‘very stressful and very worrying’ threat to his job, and indeed the whole catering industry:

 

"Not knowing whether things were going to go back to normal, whether I would still have a job, and the situation at home expecting a baby and so forth, and my partner also being in the hospitality industry. So both of us sitting on furlough, you can imagine the stress that we were getting from that."

 ITV Tonight - Watch here 

Chris very wisely decided that retraining as a plumber would secure his wife and young family’s future in these increasingly unsettling and unstable times. But instead of sitting back and letting everything crumble around him, Chris took it upon himself to prepare for the future: ‘I just said, no, I need to utilise this time to study’. If Chris can do it, so can you. 

With new furlough developments underway, allowing more free time for workers for the same pay, why not make the most of this opportunity to get trained? For those who don’t use this time carefully and sensibly, they could end up in the very same position of worry and anxiety when the next six months of furlough come to an end. This means more uncertainty, more struggling to get by, and more people out of work. You could be one of those people.

But you could also be like one of the people in Peston’s programme, who took the right steps at the right time to become a qualified tradesperson; who invested in their careers, and became proactive and determined. Access Training can be your stepping stone to a secure and fulfilling career; the safety net you need in these unforgiving times. 

"Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, demand for construction courses has gone through the roof, as many fear they will never be able to return to their previous work."

 

Demand is high, and the time is now. Take the initiative, take the leap. Enrol on a course today.

 

Learn your trade. Get qualified. Make it happen.

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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