Huge demand for health and social care training from public as 400,000 volunteer to support the COVID-19 fight

Posted on May 04, 2020

There has been a spike in demand from individuals looking to complete online training in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

The demand comes as 400,000 people have signed up to become an NHS volunteer to support our health service in facing one of the biggest challenges of the century.

With large portions of the population furloughed or left unemployed, training providers have seen a huge increase in the demand for Health and Social Care training from those volunteering or at home with ambitions to become key workers and play their part.

With classroom learning no longer possible to help prevent the spread of the virus, individuals are choosing to study online. National training provider, Learning Curve Group, launched their #EducateWhilstYouIsolate campaign in March to support those in isolation in gaining new skills and knowledge.

Within a month, they’ve seen over 22,000 people register their interest to complete an online course, with 75% of these courses in subject areas that will support key workers; not only across the health and social care sector, but warehousing and manufacturing too.

Despite the huge influx of enquiries, support from the government to provide this training has yet to be confirmed. Brenda McLeish, chief executive at Learning Curve Group, said: “It’s great to see such a huge appetite for training, and we want to support these individuals to gain knowledge and skills that will support us not only through this crisis, but in the long term too.

“We need support from the government to release existing funds to allow us to deliver this training to the 22,000 people who are sitting and waiting for funding. We’re not accessing the supplier relief scheme and we’re not looking for handouts – we’re looking for support to help people across the country who want to learn.”

The government announced on April 24 that providers could access additional financial support to ‘continue to deliver the best education and training possible’ – however, this support won’t cover the new demand for online training which would need to be funded via the adult education budget.

“At a time of national crisis, it’s important that we focus on both getting through the difficult weeks and months ahead, but also the long-term impacts this will have,” McLeish continued. “We’re going to see staggering numbers of unemployment once we’re through the other side and using this time to give individuals skills and knowledge can only be a positive.”

The campaign has been supported by colleges across the country, but without Government support, thousands of learners will be left without funding and unable to complete their qualifications.

At the beginning of April, the government released a publication that said FE providers should continue to deliver learning online, ‘including for ESFA funded AEB, via existing sub-contracting arrangements to support existing learners to successfully complete their courses… or retain evidence where this is not possible’ it also suggested that providers should be supporting ‘furloughed workers to enhance existing or develop new skills’.

With FE providers being told to continue delivering learning online, Learning Curve Group are engaging with grant funded providers to engage with the campaign to support learners in their area.

The interest in studying online has never been higher, and whilst this is a rapidly changing situation that no one has experienced before, if the Government wants providers to support learners through online learning, it’s clear that gaps in funding need filling.

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