Assessing the impact of Covid-19 on Education – A new era of apprenticeships?

If you are anything like our team at Edge, your inbox will have been filled over the last few months with countless reflections and webinar invitations looking at the impact of Covid-19 on education. There simply isn’t a more important issue for our sector at the moment.

As Edge Chief Executive Alice Barnard says in the foreword of our new report: The impact of the coronavirus will be one of the defining features of a whole generation of British children.

You will be pleased to know that, like our popular Skills Shortages Bulletins, the purpose of this report is not so much to add even more new perspectives, but rather to summarise and bring together what is already out there so that you don’t have to. No need to thank us (unless you’d like to - !), but we hope you find it a helpful read.

Some of the striking points gathered from recent research in this area include:

  • The economic impact has been felt and will continue to be felt disproportionately by young people – a third (33%) of 18-24 year old employees were furloughed, had lost their job or lost paid hours (Resolution Foundation – Page 6)
  • The impact on mental health has been particularly challenging – in Years 12 and 13 the proportion of young people saying they felt lonely during lockdown was more than half, with 20-25% saying that they “very often” felt lonely during lockdown (EduKit – Page 17)
  • While things have been very challenging for schools, there is evidence that this very difficult period could have a silver lining in support more online learning and a broader richer approach (92% of parents and 96% of teachers now want education to develop wider skills (Edge/YouGov – Page 25)
  • Research by AoC showed that in May, 43% of learners were doing less than three quarters of their planned hours with significant impacts, particularly on apprentices (AoC – Page 33)
  • For higher education students, the crisis has had a very significant impact on their career plans, with 42% of third-year students say the crisis has changed their perception of the labour market and what they will do after university (HEPI – Page 47)

It is clear from the research that there has been a particular impact on apprentices – Sutton Trust research showed that more than a third have been furloughed and more than one in ten have been made redundant.

That was the topic of an evidence session this week for the Education Select Committee’s current inquiry into the impact of Covid-19 on education. Olly Newton, our Executive Director, gave evidence alongside colleagues from AoC, AELP and the Learning and Work Institute. He emphasised that the challenges created by Covid-19 are not new but have exacerbated existing concerns about the apprenticeship system – insufficient focus on young people, narrowness, lack of social mobility. We highlighted many of these in Our Plan for Apprenticeships last year. 

If you’re interested to find out more here, we’ll be hosting an event on 30 June with Robert Halfon MP discussing his reflections on how to guarantee an apprenticeship guarantee – we’re excited to hear his plans! You can sign up for the event below.

You can read the Edge Foundation’s report, The Impact of Covid-19 on Education: A summary of evidence on the early impacts of lockdown here.

You can watch Olly’s appearance at the Education Select Committee here.

You can sign up for Guaranteeing an Apprenticeship Guarantee with Robert Halfon MP here.

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