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Supporting learners through COVID-19 with Learning Curve Group

While there is a huge amount of uncertainty in the world surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, one thing is clear - there is still a huge appetite for learning.

As face to face learning is no longer possible to help prevent the spread of the virus, we’re seeing a growth in individuals choosing to study online across the sector. With a large portion of the population furloughed or left unemployed due to the crisis, people are choosing to spend this time gaining new skills and knowledge to support them when trying to find a new role, or simply when returning to work once they are safely able to.

At NCFE, we are committed to promoting and advancing learning for learners of all ages and abilities to help them take the next steps in their careers and in their lives, which is why we are delighted to be supporting our premier partner, Learning Curve Group (LCG), with its #EducateWhileYouIsolate campaign.

Combining NCFE’s diverse range of high-quality, delivery ready qualifications and resources, many of which are eligible for AEB funding, together with LCG’s expertise in online delivery and partnerships with local colleges, the aim of the campaign is to provide access to online training, raising skills levels across a range of disciplines. In turn, this will help to increase social mobility and generate new employment opportunities for individuals so that they will be well-placed to successfully navigate the challenges that lie ahead, as life begins to return to normal or at least “the new normal”.

Since the start of the campaign we’ve seen almost 7,000 new learners inducted onto NCFE and CACHE programmes, delivered by LCG, with a further 20,000 new expressions of interest from learners across the country. In addition, we have seen over 2,000 learners successfully complete their programmes of study, with one learner successfully completing their end-point assessment gateway for their apprenticeship with distinction.

While our qualifications cover a range of subjects, we have seen an unprecedented uplift in the number of enquiries to study on programmes directly correlating to the current situation, with awards in areas of Mental Health Awareness, including Understanding Children and Young People’s Mental Health proving extremely popular. There has also been an increase in interest in qualifications which promote and enhance digital literacy, as we head towards an increasingly digitised world on the other side of the pandemic.

David Gallagher, Chief Executive at NCFE, commented:

“For over 170 years, NCFE has sat at the forefront of technical education, pioneering new qualifications and helping to support the FE sector through times of hardship.

“In these unprecedented times, with much uncertainty surrounding how and when we will see a return to ‘normal’ in whatever form that may take, it has been fantastic for us to be able to support so many learners through the #EducateWhileYouIsolate campaign.

“The economic fallout of the Coronavirus outbreak has been well documented by the media, with many industries likely to never fully recover despite the generous remuneration initiatives put in place by Government. As the impact of this is likely to see unemployment figures rise, by empowering individuals to take control of their own learning from home during this period of isolation, we are actively helping them to prepare for what lies ahead as the economy and the world we knew starts to rebuild itself.”

Brenda McLeish, Chief Executive Officer of Learning Curve Group said:

“Our #EducateWhileYouIsolate campaign, supported by NCFE, has enabled us to support a large number of learners in their locality to access accredited learning safely from their home. The campaign has seen phenomenal demand as people seek to use their time in isolation to learn new skills or further develop the skills that they have.

“A number of colleges across the country have supported this campaign by using their AEB funding to fund the activity and this has been brilliant, in times like this it’s clear that we need to ensure that learners remain supported to continue their learning, as well as give opportunity to those who want to learn and develop. I’m really proud of our sector and the way we’ve pulled together to keep the learner at the centre of everything we do.”

Following the success of the initial campaign, LCG has subsequently launched a secondary campaign, specific to promoting NCFE and CACHE accredited qualifications relevant to key workers on the front line.

With qualifications such as End of Life Care, Prevention and Control of Infection, Health and Social Care and Customer Service, the #KeySkillsForKeyWorkers campaign is ideally suited for those volunteering in core settings throughout the crisis, or as Continuing Professional Development (CPD) activities for key workers who may be self-isolating.

“We’re doing all we can to support the country’s key workers and the outstanding job that they’re doing to support the COVID-19 recovery effort. We’re also delighted that our qualifications are helping to support the next generation of key workers as individuals look to use their time on furlough or out of work to upskill in areas of physical and mental healthcare,” added David Gallagher.

“There has never been a higher demand to study online, and whilst this is a rapidly changing situation the likes of which the FE sector has never experienced before, the message from the Government is clear - online learning is key to supporting learners through this crisis and will play an instrumental role in the economic recovery effort still to come.”

To find out more about AEB funded qualifications delivered through NCFE and LCG as part of the #EducateWhileYouIsolate campaign, visit www.ncfe.org.uk/funding.

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