Apprenticeship Levy

A year like no other: reflecting on 2021

15 December 2021

As we approach the end of 2021, Corndel's Commercial Director Thomas Neal reflects on the key challenges organisations have had to overcome this year, and his thoughts on the direction learning and development will take in 2022.

It goes without saying that this has been a challenging year for organisations. The UK is currently facing the highest number of vacancies in recorded history, with available job posts surpassing 1 million for the first time in July 2021. Dubbed the Great Resignation, employees are leaving the workforce or switching jobs in droves. The pandemic has also created a unique set of challenges: employee burnout, issues with hybrid working, and the accelerated digital transformation that comes with all of this have made for a chaotic year. Against this context, workplace training can feel like a “nice to have” rather than the solution it is.

It’s not all bad news though – the Learning & Work Institute reported in November 2021 that adult participation in learning has increased for the first time since 2012. 55% of companies have taken measures to improve employee retention in the last 12 months, and the most popular mechanism for doing so was increasing workplace training opportunities (CIPD, 2020). This aligns with our own desk-based research which shows that 84% of clients think workplace training is an effective way of reducing high turnover rates and retaining good employees. We can be proud as learning and development professionals about the support we give learners and the impact we make on their productivity, careers and lives.

Looking ahead to 2022, the impact of the pandemic will still be felt. Many organisations are implementing a second round of restructures, largely attributed to bankruptcies of businesses that were “saved” by government support in 2020 and the return of insolvencies to “normal” levels. This will have a direct impact on remaining employees as their roles expand to take on additional work. Marketers will now have to be data professionals too; project managers will need leadership skills to take on new challenges – the impact will be felt across all departments and levels. There will be a real need for quality, bite-sized learning, as employees will need to learn at speed.

I am optimistic that L&D will have a louder voice at the table - the growing importance of L&D as a tool for talent retention is increasingly being recognised at the C-Suite level. However, we know this isn’t being reflected in budgets – L&D budgets are being squeezed, and 2022 will be no exception. The introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy in 2017 which earmarks specific spend for vocational training has helped, but it’s important that organisations optimise their Levy to make the most of the available funding. In the Autumn budget statement, the UK Government pledged increased apprenticeship funding in England to £2.7 billion by 2024-25 – which is on top of an extension to help and support employers who recruit apprentices. This is very welcome news and will help to support job creation, in addition to narrowing the skills gap.

At Corndel, we’re reflecting on our successes and learnings during another remarkable year.

We were delighted to have our hard work solidified through being shortlisted for 3 awards: the Learning Awards – Best Apprenticeship Programme in partnership with Capita, the Learning Excellence Awards – Outstanding External Provider of the Year, and the Learning Excellence Awards - Digital Provider of the Year. Being shortlisted is the culmination of a lot of hard work, and we go into 2022 confident of future success.

Corndel recognises the importance of cultivating a culture of equality and inclusion within the workplace and are committed to working with our clients to improve in this area, and we’ve built on this work in 2021 with a series of new initiatives. Following a confirmation from the UK Government, we have been invited to become members of the Apprenticeship Diversity Champions Network to share best practice on helping to support people facing disadvantage into apprenticeships.

We also became one of the member organisations and a strategic partner of Tech She Can, which inspires young girls and women to pursue a career in technology. We submitted our annual diversity data to the Tech Talent Charter (TTC) – we’re a signatory of the TTC and support their mission to ensure the UK tech sector becomes a diverse and truly inclusive community where people from all backgrounds are welcomed.

This year we launched the Imperial College and Corndel Executive Development Programme, bringing together the academic excellence of a world-leading University and the expertise of the UK’s largest management training provider. The programme aims to revolutionise leadership and management skills in the UK workforce.

As ever, thank you for your ongoing support and commitment to lifelong learning and development. I hope you have a restful and relaxing festive period and look forward to working together in 2022 and beyond.

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