After a year and a half, the furlough scheme (officially the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme) ends today, 30th September 2021.
Government data shows that, at its peak almost 9 million people have been supported by the scheme.
But while most have been moved off the scheme, at the end of July a further 1.6 million remain on furlough or flexible furlough.
Employers will therefore need to make decisions about managing their return to work when the scheme ends (potentially covering the full cost of their employment for the first time in 18 months), and, in particular, will need to decide whether to take back their furloughed workers or make them redundant.
For those who find themselves no longer in work, who they are, what education and skills they have, what stage they are at in their careers and the buoyancy of the labour market in the area where they live or work will all be crucial in determining their ability to gain suitable employment.
Recognise the value and potential of older workers or risk a whole generation of people being permanently being left behind
Kirstie Donnelly CEO City & Guilds said:
“As furlough comes to an end on 30 September, 1.6 million people will either be coming back into the workplace or finding themselves unemployed. Whilst interventions have been put into place for unemployed younger people during the pandemic sadly there are still few safety nets in place for older workers who suddenly find themselves out of work.
“Workers over the age of 50 represent a third of our workforce, and have a wealth of knowledge, skills, and experience that could be used to fill vital roles in society in the years ahead. However, with data highlighting that these workers are most at risk of losing their jobs and with many already struggling to re-enter the workplace, urgent action is needed to ensure we don’t throw a generation of older workers on the scrapheap when they still have much to contribute.
“Our recent Skills Index research paints a clear picture of chronic under-investment in training older, more experienced workers. Therefore, we need both employers and Government to recognise the value and potential of these workers and give them the right opportunities to update their skills. Whilst the Chancellor is hoping to prevent a spike in joblessness with his Plans for Jobs, these measures are heavily geared towards the young, and more is needed from the UK Government to stem unemployment amongst older workers. In the months ahead, more needs to be done to make better use of the apprenticeship system to support older workers as well as introducing them to solutions such as ‘skills bridges’ that help people to update their skills and move into sectors with high demand.”
Natasha Oppenheim, CEO of Experients, an organisation that promotes the value of experience of older workers, said:
"Alongside excellent people skills both within their organisation and with customers and clients, older workers bring decades of lived experience from navigating difficult times. Their wealth of experience means that they are able to act as mentors to younger members of the team, who may also be returning from furlough.
“Research shows time and time again that age-diverse teams outperform those that are less diverse. And the wider the age range in teams, the greater this outperformance – in productivity gains, in decision making, and in retention and motivation. As the furlough scheme comes to an end, multi-generational workforces will outperform, which will be important for business growth and also the UKs wider economic recovery from Covid. Businesses should keep this in mind when making decisions about their workforce as furlough comes to an end."
Additional insights from City & Guilds’ recent Skills Index research:
- 54% of employers say they can’t get the skilled workers they need, but only 14% would consider recruiting or retraining older workers to solve skills shortages
- Over a third (38%) of those aged 55+ have not received any workplace training for at least decade, or never at all
- Less than half (47%) of older workers think they have all the skills they need to succeed in the workplace
Research completed for the Institute of Coding (IoC) has uncovered a nation looking to change careers, with upskilling and reskilling providing new pathways to tech post lockdowns
- 70 percent of respondents have considered changing careers within the last two years / due to the pandemic
- 44 percent believe the pandemic and lockdowns have affected their careers
- 66% want to reskill with tech courses to futureproof their careers post lockdowns
- 52 percent of respondents have considered starting, or have started, a course to upskill or reskill since the beginning of the pandemic
- 94 percent believe a job in digital or tech could be a well-paid and stable career and 69 percent of those who want to or have started a course are opting for tech-related subjects
Research completed for the IoC shows attitudes towards careers have changed significantly in the last two years across the country. In a nationwide poll of 1,512 people in full-time employment, almost 60 percent (59%) are considering leaving or would like to leave their current career for something different either as soon as possible or within the next few months.
Sheila Flavell CBE, Chief Operating Officer of FDM Group and Chair of the IoC’s Industry Advisory Board said:
“It’s clear to see that the events of the last 18 months are having a longer-term impact on the way people view their careers and the importance of digital skills.
"It’s encouraging to see so many people wanting to upskill and reskill in tech and that’s why, in addition to existing routes, the IoC is providing accessible future-facing Skills Bootcamps to help people advance their skills and enter or re-enter employment.”
With the ‘Big Resignation’ taking hold across the country, people are examining their options and thinking about next steps. The top reasons cited amongst those who want a career change are because the pandemic has made respondents realise ‘life is too short’, people want a career that they really enjoy, people have had more time to think and reflect, with some adding that they want a career that will allow them to work more flexibly.
Demonstrating the importance of technology skills, 54 percent of respondents are interested in upskilling in digital / tech so they can advance in their current role and 50 percent are interested in upskilling in digital / tech so they can change roles. 88 percent have some confidence that they would have a better CV or be more successful at work if they had stronger digital or tech skills. This has been, in part, fuelled by the pandemic, subsequent lockdowns and changing ways of work, with 75 percent more interested in tech or digital skills being a key part of their role following the impact of the past 18 months.
The results suggest that there is an increased importance placed on digital and tech skills, however 82 percent of respondents believe their digital skills have become outdated in some way as the sector has advanced. With 94 percent of respondents believing a job in digital or tech could be a well-paid and stable career, it’s time to offer new and improved pathways to connect people to the growing number of roles in this sector.
In line with these findings, the IoC has launched a new campaign called Shift CTRLto empower and support a larger and more diverse group of people into careers in digital through the IoC-led Skills Bootcamps.
The campaign will profile cultural voices who are positive forces in the digital world, starting with Eshita Kabra-Davies, founder of By Rotation - the world’s first peer-to-peer fashion rental app. Other partners will include Timothy Armoo, CEO and founder of Fanbytes – one of the world’s leading Influencer marketing agencies,and influential British chef, Ed Baines. Their stories of personal empowerment will be available across the IoC social channels providing inspiration for those who want to upskill or reskill in tech.
Providing a variety of reskilling and upskilling options, 14 IoC partners are creating and delivering 26 Skills Bootcamps nationwide with a total of 40+ intake options for people to consider. Providing an accessible and flexible way to gain new tech skills and connect with employers in 16-weeks or less, the IoC-led Skills Bootcamps will connect 1,700+ people into employment as part of the Government’s Lifetime Skills Guarantee and Plan for Jobs.
These Skills Bootcamps are being provided at no cost to learners who meet the eligibility criteria and employers who wish to upskill existing employees through the Skills Bootcamps will receive a 70% discount from standard programme fees.
The true extent of shift in the job market
Since easing out of lockdown restrictions, job postings in the UK have reached a record high and skills shortages have become apparent across many sectors, creating a candidate led market.
Ever since the furlough scheme began in April 2020 many have feared the consequences once it ended.
However, the survey reveals that the overwhelming majority of UK workers, (82%) aren't personally concerned about the scheme ending and a further 73.9% aren't concerned that the end scheme will impact the business they work for.
Interestingly, a whopping 74.6% also report that they won't be put off looking for a new job in October and aren't fearful of any increased competition for roles.
In fact, 63.6% of the 1500 UK professionals who responded, don't feel they'll be impacted in any way at all by the end of the end of the furlough scheme.
Of those that did have concerns about the scheme ending, the top 5 were as follows:
- Fear of an increased workload
- Worry that colleagues will now leave
- Anxiety that they'll now feel trapped in their role
- An expectation that the company they work for will be worse off
- Concerned about a decreased workload
Lee Biggins, CEO and founder of CV-Library comments:
“Only time will tell what the true impact of the end of the furlough scheme will be. What we can be sure of, is that a huge period of adjustment lays ahead for those returning to work and businesses will need to balance their profit margins with new consideration. As for any redundancies that will now arise, it would be naive to think that the record number of job vacancies in the UK right now are the simple solution, not with the huge skills shortages across such a breadth of sectors."
“The fact job losses didn’t make the top 5 list of concerns for UK professionals, shows the extent of the market swing in candidates' favour. It’s good to know that the Great British spirit is alive and well. The feeling of optimism and determination from employees can only be a positive thing, both for the UK economy and its workforce.”
IFS Briefing 30 September 2021 | 11:00 - 12:00 | Online only: At this @TheIFS briefing we look at the latest vacancies data and recent labour market trends to identify the types of workers who might find difficulty in finding suitable employment once the furlough scheme ends, and we will discuss the challenges facing the labour market in the coming months.
We draw on a wealth of IFS research to do this, including analysis for the IFS Green Budget, which has been produced with funding from the Nuffield Foundation and in association with Citi.