The Cost of Living Crisis: Knowing how to support learners
With the cost of living crisis rising, it’s extremely important to know how it affects you as an assessor, tutor or trainer. How it affects apprentices and businesses. Knowing how you can support your learners as well. To then give them the best learning experience in the hard times we currently face. If you want to know more about the cost of living crisis and apprenticeships then we’ve got all your questions covered.
Cost of living impacts
The cost of living crisis impacts everyone. In terms of apprenticeships, it impacts the employer, the apprentices themselves and the parents of the apprentices. This in turn impacts education and skills. As well as the apprentices being impacted, it also impacts everyone involved in the end journey.
The apprenticeship achievement rate is lower than expected so this could mean that learners are leaving the apprenticeship. So they can take a higher-paid job role, which would be on a living wage. As the apprentice wage is lower than the living wage, especially for young people. If you’re over 19 and have been on the apprenticeship for a year, then you get paid the minimum wage. It looks tempting to then get a job just for the pay rather than for career progression.
It also impacts the young age range (16-19), using apprenticeships as a gateway into the job market. As employers may rely on the older age 20+ as they may have more experience and turnover.
The cost of living undoubtedly affects families, parents or carers. With the rising housing costs, rent, food, and utilities, it’s no wonder people are struggling to make ends meet. There are pressures on households, especially for the younger age range for those parents to have an impact on the decisions of the children. As they may lose benefits, such as child benefits. Which affects the overall household income.
There are massive pressures on employers to create apprenticeships and work placements, but also to deliver them to a high standard. Employers don’t really have a choice but to pay wage bills, pay utilities and other bills if they want to stay working. They may cut apprenticeship and training budgets to cut down on costs. The increase in business costs affects the overall creation and availability of apprenticeships.
The increased interest rates are already affecting any business that borrows money, as well as impacting the number of vacancies that were previously high is actually starting to slow down. Employers could start to see a flatline in apprenticeship recruitment after we have seen a large increase over the last few months.
There are major uncertainties for businesses at the moment, especially with the changes in government that we have had, it just seems never-ending! Depending on if you’re a large organisation or a small business, it would be a different duffer, or is there a duffer in place? As smaller businesses might find it harder to stay afloat if they’ve seen their energy prices rise.
The apprentices off the job training might be affected. As some employers might be reluctant to let their apprentices complete their off-the-job in the lead-up to Christmas, especially if you’re in retail or hospitality. It can be a challenge for employers in peak periods, however, it’s necessary that apprentices complete their off-the-job training. The training is essential to give them the skills to progress in their chosen field. In addition to not treating them as if they’re cheap labour.
Apprentices themselves are under pressure as well, as they’re receiving the lower end of pay. This is a significant barrier to young people even considering apprenticeships. As it is quite insufficient for a young person to live on, who may not have the ability to rely on their family. Even if they’re undertaking an apprenticeship, they may have to take additional jobs in the evening and on weekends. So then the question is do they take a job for the money and to survive or for career progression?
We know the apprentice wage has gone from £4.30 to £4.81 however, it still remains low. It’s likely to be absorbed by high inflation levels and it doesn’t really look appealing to a young person who may have to contribute to their family’s finances. As a young person can earn better money elsewhere, it’s a massive deterrent for them to even think about it being an avenue.
Cost of travel
There are substantial geographical differences in the availability of apprenticeships in specific sectors. Suppose you want to undertake an apprenticeship in social care for example. This is a widely accessible apprenticeship across the UK. However, if you want to take on manufacturing technologies, this can become more localised and specialised. Meaning young people may have to reconsider their options, move to a different part of the area or travel considerable amounts.
Even if the apprenticeship is localised, there is still the issue of transport. They may have to take a few different routes to get to the place. Which starts to look like a deterrent.
Long Term Views
There is also a low awareness among young people of longer-term goals. Such as earning and career progression potential. This can be a key barrier to recruitment. It can lead young people into more highly paid but low-skilled jobs, rather than apprenticeships. Despite having great prospects, they pay less. To overcome this barrier it’s important that you highlight the long-term benefits of apprenticeships to young people.
Breaking down financial barriers
The options for employers need to be exploring the support they should be giving their learners as well as their employees! Especially during the cost of living crisis. This could be in the form of financial well-being education. It’s also important that providers and employers are adaptable to the ever-changing environment and open to undertaking new initiatives. As someone who deals with apprenticeships or learners in general you should design creative solutions to these problems.
Need for flexibility
With students who may rely on family to help support them they might find it hard, however, the learners who simply can’t rely on family for support will be really struggling. Depending on their wage or any universal credit they may qualify for, they must rely on their wages. Some students may be dipping into their savings. With an increasing need for learners to keep up with personal financial pressures, flexibility is key. To help open doors for a more diverse cohort of students a willingness to be less rigid with traditional forms of assessment and applications is also a good way to offer more flexibility.
Teaching financial wellbeing
Offering personal finance resources such as webinars or access to financial well-being support is a great step to help students that may be struggling. Well-being support is important too. Financial concerns can have a deep impact on well-being and overall stress levels. To combat this, employers can use online websites and tools to recommend to their learners, regardless of age.
A website called Togetherall has been recommended to us. It offers confidential online well-being support and advice 24 hours a day. Whether learners are struggling to sleep, feeling low or stressed or finding themselves unable to cope, offering platforms to help them get better is a step in the right direction.
It’s also really helpful to give your learners access to budgeting tools. As a result, students are less likely to get caught up in something that they don’t fully comprehend.
While financial education can’t solve the cost-of-living crisis, it can give people more confidence to budget and manage their finances.
What do you think? Is the cost-of-living crisis as they make it out to be? Do we need to be more aware of it? Let us know in the comments, we would love to get the discussion going! We really love hearing from our learners and anytime we can, we will! Any help or additional advice you can spread about the cost-of-living crisis is beneficial!