The Covid-19 pandemic has threatened the jobs of millions of people across the UK. Since March, the UK has seen an unemployment crisis not seen in this country for decades, with 181,000 people having been made redundant, and counting. If recent forecasts have told us anything, it’s that the damage done to our economy as a result of the pandemic will be permanent. That we’re in it for the long haul.
The most up-to-date statistics, as given by the Office of National Statistics in September, puts the UK’s unemployment rate at 4.8%, having risen by 300,000 since last year. This indicates a current level of 1.62 million unemployed people. But predictions for the next year are much, much higher, with the number reaching 2.6 million by the middle of 2021. That accounts for 7.5% of the working population, a level of unemployment not seen since the aftermath of the financial crisis ten years ago.
However, some predictions relating to the scale of UK unemployment are even higher. The Bank of England suggests that the unemployment rate will peak at around 7.7% between April-June 2021. And other sources predict that this percentage could even reach beyond 10%. Some factors, such as the government’s extension of furlough, might reduce these figures temporarily. But these varied predictions tell us one important thing: that although we know that times ahead will be tough, we simply don’t know just how bad things are going to get. Are we merely taming the inevitable storm which will, at some point, cause widespread and long-term unemployment? How can the working population of the UK possibly prepare for such a large-scale crisis?
Unfortunately, Rishi Sunak’s spending review in November gave us little cause for hope. In order to deal with the demands of the pandemic, the UK government has had to borrow £349bn – ‘the highest [amount] in peacetime history’, according to Sunak. He announces that the economy is expected to contract by 11.3% this year – ‘the largest fall in output for more than 300 years’, Sunak says. He does not expect to return to pre-Covid levels of economic growth until ‘the fourth quarter of 2022’. And, to top it all off, he describes the damage done to the economy as ‘lasting’.
It goes without saying that now, more than ever, we are all desperate to hear words of comfort, security and hope. And despite Mr. Sunak’s insistence that the government will ‘ensure nobody is left without hope’, hope is seeming increasingly difficult to find. With continuous reports of redundancies, thousands across the country are falling victim to what has repeatedly been described as the ‘Coronavirus jobs bloodbath’ of recent months.
But our purpose is to offer just this: hope. Because if there’s one thing we’ve learnt during the months of the pandemic, it’s that our tutors, our students, and individuals and organisations across the construction industry, are highly resourceful, determined, and efficient workers. We have demonstrated our ability to keep operating, despite the restrictions of the pandemic, in a safe and efficient way; just notice how all construction work has been allowed to go ahead in the second wave of lockdowns and restrictions.
Most importantly, though, there are many, many job opportunities available in the construction industry. Construction sites were among the first working environments to open in August, and construction sites have been allowed to remain open, even over lockdowns. Construction work is absolutely essential to the growth and recovery of the UK’s economy, not only in the months ahead, but in the years, decades to come. Hospitals, schools, roads, houses – all these things will continue to need building, rebuilding, repairing. Large infrastructural projects, like HS2, still need completing, and are all vital to our economy.
And this is why we at Access Training have adapted our services as best we can, by creating an online portal to ensure that the theoretical aspects of our training can still be completed in spite of lockdowns, isolations, and anything a pandemic can throw at us.
This is why we, and other independent companies across the UK, are taking the initiative and networking with other industry leaders to create a stronger job market, and supply the construction industry with the workforce it so desperately needs.
This is why Access is dedicated to training the next generation of tradespeople in our centres; because we know that the opportunities are there for years to come. That having skilled, experienced tradespeople working in the UK, has never been more important.
The construction industry has been, and will continue to be, an absolutely essential element of the UK’s future development. Mr. Sunak’s hopes for economic recovery are highly dependent on a thriving construction industry.
The UK construction industry needs tradespeople – needs you – more than you can imagine. Take a leap of faith and join a fast growing industry, where you won’t have to find work – it will find you.
Learn your trade. Get qualified. Make it happen.