Covid bulletin #33
This is the thirty-third of a series of bulletins produced by ISE to update members on key data and policy on Covid-19. This covers the period 05/11/2020-11/11/2020.
You can access all of the Covid-19 bulletins on ISE Insights.
Latest Covid-19 data
The UK has now had over 1.2 million identified Covid-19 cases and 61,648 deaths (with Covid on the death certificate). The R rate is estimated to be between 1.1 and 1.3 with the daily infection rate growing by 2-4%. This means that the UK’s second wave is continuing. The daily number of cases has continued to increase and the pattern of the number of deaths doubling every two weeks has been maintained.
- A new vaccine produced by Pfizer and BioNTech has been found to be 90% effective on Covid. Details about the trial are emerging but there are still a range of open questions including concerns about difficulties in distributing it. Further discussion about the vaccine is available in The Guardian and The Conversation. Nonetheless, the UK government have started to put in place a plan for how the vaccine will be administered.
- The Education Select Committee argues that schools may have to work longer hours to catch up for lost learning during the pandemic.
- Wales has cancelled GCSE and A level exams for 2021.
- A photo essay captures the experience of students leaving school during the pandemic.
- Unions and college principles are debating whether colleges should remain open and deliver face-to-face teaching during the pandemic.
- There is a need for investment in and reform of the apprenticeship system in response to the recession argue the Association for Consultancy and Engineering.
- Ofsted are considering whether inspections may restart from January.
- Covid has been expensive for many universities who have been spending millions on making campuses Covid-safe. Nonetheless there is still criticism of universities handling of the pandemic and recent changes from Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education open up the possibility for mass complaints to be brought.
- Concerns about the cut to UnionLearn continue to be voiced.
- The Bank of England continues to rely on Quantitative Easing as its primary strategy to combat the economic downturn. But, will this approach work?
The labour market
- The living wage has risen to £9.50 per hour (£10.85 in London). This is an optional wage level which is in excess of the National Living Wage which is £8.72.
- The pandemic has been highly disruptive of work and career progression. Natash Preskey argues that 2020 is the year that destroyed the career ladder.
- The Jobcentre has announced new guidance on its operation during the lockdown period.
The student labour market
- Graduate recruitment is down. Tristram Hooley discusses the situation on You and Yours on Radio 4 and the full report from ISE is available on the website.
- Employers are also cutting back on internships and placements.
- Covid continues to impact disproportionately on young people. Martin Daunton argues that we need a new social contract to support young people. The government is continuing to roll out its Kickstart scheme.
Student recruitment and development
- The shift to online assessment of student candidate comes with dangers. Alan Bourne of Sova Assessment discusses how to ensure that your recruitment is not biased. Research by ISE also provides insights on how to ensure more diverse candidates.
Insights gathered from ISE employer ‘town halls’ and other interactions over the last week.
- The overall volume of applications for student positions seems to be rising. This includes lots of 2020 graduates who have not found a job yet. As the volume of candidates goes up it can be more difficult to focus on diversity.
- There are concerns about how ‘virtual careers fairs’ are working and whether student engagement in them is sufficient. On the other hand some students are treating careers fairs as if they are an interview and it is difficult to meet their expectations.
- There has been a big drop in placement year programmes leading lots of graduates and postgraduates to apply for apprenticeships which they are really over-qualified for. Many firms are planning for a limited programme of internships in 2021 with most taking place online.
- In general most employers are cautious about engaging with the Plan for Job and about claiming government money. Many had considered and rejected participating in Kickstart for a variety of reasons including the fact that they don’t need it to help them recruit in the current labour market.
- The transition from school to work has been disrupted by the pandemics. Employers and schools need to find new ways to work together.
- There is interest in T-levels, but most firms are still adopting a ‘wait and see’ position on this.
- There is still a lot of frustration amongst employers about the way the apprenticeship system is working. (See ISE’s recommendations to government on the apprenticeship system).