The welfare and interests of our apprentices, our employer partners and members of staff is at the heart of everything we do at YMCA Training. As experts in health, education and wellbeing, we take a holistic view, it's what sets us apart and it is why we are well placed to tackle the economic and social challenges we face as we respond to the Coronavirus pandemic and adapt to the changes it has forced upon us.
Throughout the pandemic we have continued to provide one to one support to our employers and learners adapting our delivery times and styles to accommodate their needs. At present, like many others, our team are working from home and making the most of technology to continue to provide effective and enjoyable teaching, learning and assessment. Feedback from our apprentices has shown us that sessions using Zoom, Teams or Skype are just as effective as a workplace visit and often even more so. The use of technology is allowing our apprentices the opportunity to learn new skills and ways of communicating that have become the new normality at work and at home for us all. I am very pleased that the majority of our apprentices have made good progress during lockdown and in many cases used the time to accelerate their learning and attainment. Over the coming months we will continue working closely with our awarding bodies and end point assessment organisations to ensure we are maximising the opportunities made available via their remote testing and assessment flexibilities. Our aim is to avoid disruption to learning and achievement as much as we can and to date, despite these difficult times, our apprentices have maintained timely achievement and the 100% success rate at end point assessment.
Now as the country gradually emerges from lockdown, we have been planning extensively for our return to apprenticeship delivery in the post COVID 19 world, looking closely at all the key risks, considerations and government guidance across our own organisation and the broad range of vocational areas we deliver in. As we plan ahead our first consideration is of course the safety of our apprentices and colleagues and second, at this time of huge economic and social disruption, is maximizing the impact and benefits of learning for individuals and employers. We want to assure you that we will continue this flexible approach during what will inevitably be a lengthy recovery period and we will be working closely with our employers to understand their business needs and the control measures they have in place before we return to any activity workplace based activity.
Throughout lockdown we have continued to work alongside employers recruiting new apprentices and as we move forward, we know there will be employers with existing staff moving into new or different roles and people unexpectedly looking for alternative employment opportunities. We appreciate the current issues and disruption and also the need to be prepared and so by offering candidate applications, interviews and enrolments remotely via our online portal we have minimised wherever possible the barriers to recruitment. In many cases our employers have seen this as an opportunity to start their apprentices earlier than expected, using time working from home or whilst on furlough to really kick start the apprenticeship programme and prepare their employees with the skills and knowledge for the demands ahead. Remote does not mean without the personal touch we know makes all the difference though so as always, these processes are supported by one to one assistance from dedicated members of our team.
Coronavirus is affecting all our lives and many of us are worrying about what it all means for ourselves and for our loved ones. We understand that the pandemic brings a huge range of challenges when it comes to mental health and general wellbeing. We do not underestimate the effect of the last few months, from feelings of loneliness and isolation to uncertainty as well as the behavioural adjustments required as we still stay physically distanced from one another. As the world opens up we are having to adapt to new and rapidly changing rules and guidance on what we can and can’t do and potentially face increased levels of anxiety or stress. We know that some people will need support or just to know they are not alone in how they feel so below are a few suggested links to campaigns and resources that we think maybe useful to share.
- Every Mind Matters is a recently launched NHS campaign aimed at helping everyone with their mental health during these difficult times. This includes a website with practical hints and tips plus the ‘How are You?’ quiz which gives more personalised suggestions of support.
- Mind provide information and support for those finding things hard emotionally themselves or who may be supporting someone else with their mental health.
- Mental Health UK supports anyone affected by mental health problems across the UK and brings together experts from four national mental health charities to improve understanding and provide vital care.
A successful Apprenticeship programme is always driven by an effective partnership and we are absolutely committed to working with you our employers and learners to ensure that apprentices are safe and continue to move forward with their career of choice.
Please be rest assured that we at YMCA Training will continue to have you at the forefront of our plans as we all navigate the tricky times ahead. We remain ready and prepared to adapt and flex our delivery and will embrace both the challenges and opportunities as they present themselves and as our lives and the economy inch towards the return to something closer to normality.