The government’s furlough scheme is set to end in October 2020, meaning that many workers will be made redundant before the year is out.
With 600,000 fewer employees on payroll in May, compared to just two months earlier, competition for jobs will be fierce, so now's the time to get prepared.
Use redundancy as an opportunity to retrain (or to sharpen your existing skills), to make your CV as strong as it can be for the job hunt ahead.
Bite the bullet and sign up for training early so you feel confident and in control of what comes after redundancy.
All employees have the right to have a reasonable amount of time off to arrange training. Those rights kick in when you’re put under notice of redundancy.
If you’re made redundant because of Coronavirus, it doesn’t affect your rights to arrange time off to train.
If you’re furloughed, you can still take part in training while the government pays your wages. In fact, it’s encouraged, so long as it doesn’t generate any income for your employer.
While you're training, your employer will still claim for your wages through the furlough scheme, so they have everything to gain by letting you learn.
If you see a course that would develop your skills, there’s no harm in suggesting it.
If you arrange time off to retrain, it’s likely you’ll finance the qualification yourself unless you can find a grant or bursary.
You won’t have to repay a grant, so it’s worth checking your eligibility for government and charity funding programmes.
If you live in Wales, the Redundancy Action Scheme (ReAct) awards up to £1,500 to fund your training. The grant can be split between several qualifications, courses and expenses. The eligibility criteria are broad, so to include as many redundant workers as possible.
The Rapid Response Service, arranged through the Job Centre, can cover your costs for vocational retraining. The only proviso is that you contact the Rapid Response Service no later than 13 weeks after you’re made redundant, but you can still get in touch if you suspect your role is at risk.
The Scottish Government is on the cusp of introducing a package of support for 2020/21 worth £100 million to help guarantee jobs for young people, a new national retraining scheme, plus funding to ‘provide immediate assistance and advice if people are made redundant.’
There's little information available about how to access the fund yet.
Other ways to fund training
Don't rush to fund training at any cost.
Paying with a loan, credit or balance transfer card are other options, but if you lose your job, a lender is far more likely to refuse your application.
You should also check you can afford the monthly repayments and any interest before committing to borrow.
Some training providers will work with you to organise a monthly direct debit payment programme, but again reflect on how you'd afford the repayments if you're out of work.
The right course for you is a completely personal decision. It's wrapped up in where you see yourself in the future and what career will make you the most fulfilled.
The course you choose now could capture your professional attention for years to come, help you to progress and win opportunities.
If you need advice about the right course for you, career development advisers work in most training companies and are there to guide you.
As a simple starting point, try to answer these three questions:
- Is the course relevant for the role and industry I want to work in?
- Will the outcomes of the course fill the gaps on my CV?
- Am I interested in the syllabus?
Or, even more straightforward, what part of your job did you enjoy, or what would you like to do more of? If you can't think of anything, perhaps it's time to retrain.
A training advisor can help you understand how your level of expertise fits into an educational pathway.
Some qualifications are awarded by chartered or independent bodies - they're accepted and respected across the Uk and in some cases, around the world. Others are awarded by specialist training providers.
If the last time you studied for qualifications was at school or university, you'll be familiar with GCSEs and A Levels, then post-grad BA(hons), BScs, MScs, MAs and PhDs.
Some professional and vocational qualifications have levels equivalent to these well-known qualifications. For example, an IOSH Managing Safely qualification is a Level 2, equivalent to a GCSE. Level 3 is equivalent to an A Level. In health and safety terms, that might be the NEBOSH General Certificate. Professional development, in some fields, can be taken to degree level and beyond.
If you have 20 years of experience in a role, you won't need to start at a Level 2. You might need some help finding the level that will build on your existing skills and not go over old ground.
There's a lot of choice and options we can help you to explore.
It's never too late and you're never too old to learn something new.
There are several reasons why you might be thinking of retraining rather than pursuing qualifications in your current field. For example:
- You struggled to progress
- Jobs rarely come up
- It's competitive or oversubscribed
- You'd like to earn more money or have better benefits
- Boredom and dissatisfaction
- Innovations in your industry have fundamentally changed the role
All these are valid reasons for completely changing your career, but sometimes we just need a change. That's especially true if a traumatic redundancy process.
Use redundancy as an opportunity to cast off the parts of your job that made you feel bored and uninspired, so you can focus on what you really want to do.
Keep an eye open for the benefits your employer offers in your final days at work.
There’s a lot they can do to support you before sending you into the job market to sink or swim.
Invite you to a careers fair
Some larger employers will invite recruiters and training providers to private careers fairs. Whereas others might just point you in the direction of one happening soon in the area.
It’s not just a chance to think about career options, but also a chance to network.
Social distancing might prevent the face-to-face careers fairs we're all so used to, so watch out for internal emails flying around with details about virtual meetups.
1-2-1s with your managers
It’s 'last chance saloon' for feedback, so speak up now to the people who know you best.
Redundancy isn’t a reflection on your abilities, so ask them about how they saw you progressing at the company if circumstances were different. It may give you a new perspective on your next steps and which qualifications would support your CV.
Provide a copy of your Personal Development Plan (PDP)
Your HR department (or manager) will have a copy of your annual PDP, so ask if you can see it one last time, or take a copy of your own.
It will contain the proposed courses and training for the year ahead. If you can arrange time off to train, or you're ready to book a course right away, these qualifications could be a good starting point.
Guest speakers and events
Although your company is going through a redundancy consultation, it may not affect your employer’s rolling calendar of events. Be bold and ask to attend the events which are relevant for your career, if it’ll aid your professional growth.>p
According to the Labour market overview, UK: June 2020 by the Office of National Statistics