Developing a Resilient Workforce Briefing Report

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Developing a Resilient Workforce

Results from the Workforce Development Survey 2021

The national Workforce Development Survey is carried out by leading researchers from SFJ Awards, part of the Workforce Development Trust, also incorporating Skills for Justice, Skills for Health and People 1st International.

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The global pandemic has impacted all sectors of our economy, not least professional and vocational learning, which have been confronted by the pressures that COVID-19 has placed on delivery and operational demand. In testing times, employers and further education institutions have had to confront the management of complex resourcing; cater for additional well-being support for staff; and respond to remote ways of working. These drivers will be instrumental in shaping the workforce of the future and will require.

In terms of learning and development, recovery for the sector will require forward-thinking with the skills of the existing workforce in mind, and this report seeks to understand current and future issues in terms of skills gaps, skills shortages, qualifications, and training. It is aimed at sharing evidence that will help guide decision makers’ efforts to develop a workforce that is fit for the future.

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that we must be ready to expect the unexpected. In terms of services, employers must be prepared to reinvent the way they work and, however difficult, this means planning for the skills needed in the workforce today as well.

– John Rogers – Chief Executive, SFJ Awards

Image of John Rogers, Chief Executive at SFJ Awards.
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The flexible workforce

Flexible working can take many forms such as part-time working, reduced hours, job sharing, flexible start and finish times and working from home. A recent SFJ Awards survey has revealed that the number of employers offering flexible working for some people in their organisation has increased from 63% to 69.2%.

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Has the Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the wider adoption and participation in flexible working practices through necessity, and will this trend continue to thrive? Find out in the full report.

Current and future challenges

The survey also revealed polarised feelings towards the pandemic’s impacts on staff wellbeing. Although 68% of respondents reported negative impacts on staff wellbeing, 36.6% of respondents said there had been a positive impact on staff commitment to respective organisations and their goals and 42.5% said teamwork had improved.

However, most survey respondents reported negative impacts on the ability to offer staff training, worryingly this was something that was already a challenge for some sectors, even before the pandemic.

“It is likely that staff will move to other organisations that can offer more flexible ways of working which will impact the service.”

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Apprenticeships hit hardest by the pandemic?

Despite the new model for delivering apprenticeships in England being in place for over four years, understanding around the purpose and organisation benefits of apprenticeships are still fairly low. Approximately 60% of respondents reported holding a full understanding of what apprenticeships mean and the value they bring. The survey by SFJ Awards found that 45.5% of employers were not utilising apprenticeship programmes. Here are some of the reasons why:

40.6% reported this was due to a lack of understanding of apprenticeships

38.2% reported having no capacity to line manage the apprentice during their programme

29.4% said it was due to the perceived reduced productivity during time spent undertaking off-the-job learning

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Creating an inclusive workforce

  • 12.8% of respondents stated that they had been bullied, harassed, or unfairly treated in the owrkplace due to a protected characteristic (in the last 12 months)

  • 79.6% of respondents said they had not experienced harassment, bullying or unfair treatment in the workplace, and similar figures emerge in relation to how workplaces promote equality, diversity, and inclusion

  • 80.3% of respondents agree that people within their organisation are treated with respect regardless of their race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, parental status, or age

  • Around 75% agreed that their organisation encourages equal access to opportunities and offers suitable training in relation to equality, diversity and inclusion.
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