New apprenticeship numbers fall to the lowest in a decade
New reports show that the number of new apprenticeships being started this year is at its lowest for the past ten years, as the Coronavirus has sparked a mass unemployment crisis in the UK. The Department for Education revealed that apprenticeship starts fell by 18% compared to the previous academic year, to 319,000.
Over the course of the last seven months, the private sector has undergone a seismic shift. Thousands of businesses are struggling to stay afloat, and – despite the Government’s furlough and “Pay as you Grow” schemes – over 730,000 jobs have already been claimed by the COVID-19 pandemic. With overstretched budgets and the streamlining of teams, often it is the most creative members of the private workforce who have suffered as affording high-end, permanent talent has become a luxury for many firms. Freelancers provide a vital lifeline for those who are in dire need of expertise without the long-term commitment during the most financially uncertain period the UK has seen since the 2008 recession.
Many companies that have needed to scale back in order to survive will still need to invest in talent to complete projects, even if it is on a part-time or short term basis. Furthermore, many skilled workers who now find themselves unemployed may well be exploring additional working options, such as the gig economy. The role of the freelancer is likely to shift; historically, part-time contractors have missed out on company benefits and socialisation, but now – as their talents become far more appreciated and in demand – freelancers have the opportunity to become some of the most integral and core members of teams, especially if hired to lead special projects.
A new form of umbrella agency is beginning to emerge, such as The Future Strategy Club (https://futurestrategyclub.com). They are dedicated to helping ambitious individuals take on creative projects during this time, and in helping firms find the best freelance talent to plug their existing skill gaps.
Justin Small, Founder of The Future Strategy Club – a lean and transparent agency for the UK’s finest freelancer talent – discusses the importance of the post-COVID gig economy for the UK’s private sector:
“The perception of freelancers and gig economy work has been long overdue an overhaul. Historically, freelancers have been excluded from the benefits of the permanent workforce including workplace culture, socialisation and support networks. Now, with the turbulence caused by the Coronavirus and unemployment crisis, the private sector’s reliance on flexible workers will not only become apparent but crucial to its survival, delivering a positive step for the gig economy and its importance to the wider economy as we grow out of the COVID-19 period.”