In a video address to those who left school during the Covid-19 lockdown, Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, described this academic year as a “final year like no other,” and he wasn’t wrong.
Between school closures, exam cancellations, and teachers and learners alike having to get used to new, remote ways of working, the Coronavirus pandemic has created multiple challenges for the world of education.
For those young people who are stepping out of school without any of the usual pomp and ceremony, like a prom, or getting to sign their friends’ school shirts and yearbooks, many feel understandably robbed of what is traditionally a rite of passage for leavers aged 16. More than anything however, the 2020 cohort should feel incredibly proud of themselves for what they have achieved under extraordinarily trying circumstances.
Across the country, educators have seen learners stepping up and really taking control of their own learning to help them further their progress towards their chosen careers. A great example of this can be found in our case study, where you can learn more about NCFE learner, Elica, who has managed to continue studying towards her Level 3 Extended Diploma in Health and Social Care while working full-time as a Health Care Assistant to support Covid-19 patients at her local hospital.
Whilst we appreciate that the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak doesn’t stop with the virus itself, and that the economic fallout of the pandemic will likely be felt long into the 2020s, we know that the education and skills sector has a hugely important role to play in supporting economic recovery.
In times of financial crisis, it is often the younger generations who suffer most acutely from job losses and a lack of opportunities. Keeping young people engaged in education through the provision of high-quality learning experiences during this period of reduced activity will be key to ensuring that they are equipped with the skills they need to enter a more challenging job market when the time comes.
Where the Government has already taken some steps to address this, with the pledge of up to £96 million worth of funding for 16-19 tutoring, there is still a long way to go; which is why NCFE has introduced its own youth employment initiative.
Designed to provide wraparound support for learners and Further Education colleges and training providers, the ‘Go the distance’ campaign, operating in partnership with our friends at Skills Forward, aims to enable young people to understand their baseline employability skills and identify areas for improvement. Through the programme, learners can then access fundable packages of qualifications, mapped to meet their specific development needs.
We hope that the initiative will energise and inspire learners to explore their options, to upskill and reskill in anticipation of the challenges ahead and give them the confidence to pursue opportunities which come their way as we start along our long road to economic recovery.
Yes, this has been a final year like no other, but let’s be proud of what our young people have accomplished and congratulate them as they receive their results and take their next steps towards their futures.
To find out more about our youth employment initiative, visit NCFE.