Prosper spoke to the team at FE News, the education and employability news channel for the future of education, and asked how the future of apprenticeships and learning may look?


The COVID-19 situation has created a 'new normal' in apprenticeships – students learning from home, tutors providing remote support, a suspension of Ofsted inspections and temporary funding rules.


Chamber Patron member, In-Comm Training, which operates three technical academies in Aldridge, Bridgnorth and Shrewsbury, are currently delivering all courses via a virtual platform, ensuring their 750 learners still have access to industry experienced trainers and assessors when they need them most.


It goes without saying that there's been a lot of change in a short period of time. It's hard to believe that in just a few weeks, the whole sector has adapted to a whole new way of working.


But when the dust settles and we get back to some kind of normal delivery, how will COVID-19 affect apprenticeships in the long run? Like with anything in life, there'll be a mix of positives and negatives.......

1. Increased Adoption of Tech

A big positive that is likely to come from this situation is the increased adoption of tech. Providers that have systems in place to support learners remotely are finding the transition easier than those that don't. Some providers are even experiencing higher engagement and achievements thanks to tech. Many providers have seen that they can engage learners and employers far more effectively and efficiently remotely, so when revenue does return to normal, they can actually be more profitable than before. This situation has shone a light on E-Learning, and hopefully, more providers will use tech to support their delivery in the future.

2. Reduced Number of Starts

In April 2020, just one month into the COVID-19 situation, providers reported an 80% reduction in apprenticeship starts. As employers focus on rebuilding their business after Covid-19, we are likely to see a reduction in apprenticeship starts across many sectors. Hopefully, when employers start seeing revenue return to normal, they will be able to focus on skills development to support the future of their business.

3. Increased Starts in Some Standards

Sectors like product development, engineering, technology and healthcare are likely to experience an increase in starts. COVID-19 has transformed these industries and even shifted public opinion of skills, which may result in an increase in apprenticeship starts in some key areas.

4. A Shift in Learner Engagement

Apprenticeship engagement may drop as learners transition back to work after a break in learning or being furloughed. Providers may need to provide extra support to help learners with resocialisation, resetting behaviours and supporting mental health. The COVID-19 situation will affect us all differently, so providers need to prepare how they are going to deliver this extra-curricular support.

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