I was interested to read that a survey of about 6,000 adults by the Resolution Foundation found 19% of 18-24-year olds who were furloughed during lockdown were unemployed in September. For black, Asian and minority ethnic workers the figure was 22%, compared to 9% for the general population. Arguably, this makes for difficult reading. While the Treasury has reintroduced the full furlough scheme to accompany the forthcoming lockdown, this has come too late for employers who have already had to make difficult decisions in making people redundant.

In contrast, the BBC also reported that the volume of online job adverts posted was at 70% of the 2019 average, the highest since the end of March. Some sectors have apparently recovered more strongly than others. Health and social care vacancies are now above 2019 levels, data suggests, while funding has begun for hundreds of nurse apprenticeships in England.

These statistics got me thinking. What if these statistics could be turned into an opportunity for more employers? If not now… then when?  We are all too aware of the impending staffing crisis facing the health and social care sector clients when the new Brexit immigration rules take effect in the new year. I can recall several conversations I have had with housing associations in both rural and urban areas who have all spoken about the challenges of recruiting to a career in housing and planning for leadership succession. “A career in housing is not what people think about when they leave school….it is not sexy enough”. 

These redundancy statistics may be sad but they also tell us there is a pool of young (and young at heart alike!), black, Asian and minority ethnic workers available who are likely to be willing to consider a job or career that they may not have thought of before. Could these redundant employees be your future talent? This may also present an opportunity to build more diversity in your organisations and work on embedding those inclusion plans. The National Retraining Scheme announced in 2017 was designed to help people retrain as the economy changes. On 13 October 2020, the government announced that the National Retraining Scheme would be integrated with the Government’s new £2.5bn National Skills Fund. This will assist employees who may want to move into the public sector including local government, education and healthcare. 

What apprenticeships could you offer that you are currently not? What are you doing to make your work organisations fantastic places to work and therefore attractive and able to retain talent? Employers should see these statistics as opportunities to attract new and different talent with a view to positioning their organisations for a brighter post-Covid future.