The AELP Business Recovery Conference on 9-10 September 2020 is the flagship skills event of the year.  Presented online via Zoom, keynote speakers include:

  • Apprenticeships and skills minister Gillian Keegan
  • Shadow skills minister Toby Perkins
  • West Midlands mayor Andy Street
  • ESFA apprenticeships director Peter Mucklow
  • CBI UK policy director Matthew Fell
  • AELP chairman Martin Dunford.

The event could not be better timed as Britain starts to emerge from the lockdown showing signs of recovery but it nevertheless now finds itself officially in its worst ever recession.  While training providers and colleges are trying to ramp up their provision to try and tackle the rise in unemployment, they are still faced with the prospect of more people losing their jobs, including many apprentices, as the furlough scheme ends.  At the same time independent training providers as businesses are dealing with their own challenges as their income has been severely hit by over 60% falls in apprenticeship starts and vacancies.

Despite this, providers have performed miracles in switching apprentices and other learners from a traditional work-based delivery model to remote learning online.  Trainers and assessors from their own homes have constantly kept in touch with their learners via video calls and emails to ensure that they progress through their programmes.  Examples of this will be shown during the ‘coffee breaks’ at our virtual conference.

In July, the government stepped up to the plate with its Plan for Jobs.  We saw the big boost for traineeships and the introduction of financial incentives for employers to take on young apprentices.  Initial feedback from AELP members is that smaller employers in particular appear to be interested in taking advantage of these incentives.  It will be good to hear at the conference from skills minister Gillian Keegan how the government is taking forward the measures announced by the chancellor and equally from the shadow skills minister Toby Perkins on whether the government should be doing more.

IfATE, Ofsted and leading thinktanks will be represented at a senior level while the employer and provider viewpoint on post-pandemic priorities will be equally visible.  The new AELP leadership will set out its policy wishlist for the autumn in the efforts to boost skills and support unemployed apprentices and adults back into work.  Beamed live from California, we will also have an international perspective on how a state government is getting its apprenticeship programme back on track.

The content of the conference has been structured to appeal to provider leaders and be invaluable to operational managers.  So if listening to politicians and regulators on post-pandemic recovery plans doesn’t rock your boat, then you will find a vast array of choices instead on how providers can work best with employers and learners to support the recovery at a local level.  Looking at the frontline delivery experts presenting them, this is unquestionably the best set of workshops offered at any AELP event. 

The terrific agenda for the conference, sponsored by Learning Curve Group and Cognassist, is near completion and here is a reminder of some of the sessions you can watch:

  • Re-engaging employers and learners, especially getting young people out of the house
  • Blended models of learning delivery for different skills programmes
  • Being employer focused in these challenging times
  • Growing an effective Traineeship programme
  • Opening a training centre safely after lockdown
  • Provider risk management including HR and legal obligations
  • Ensuring that a provider is financially resilient
  • The role of leadership and management in ensuring post-lockdown regulatory compliance
  • Promoting mental well-being
  • Moving from being a good provider to a great one
  • Using data effectively for better programme delivery
  • National response needed to support the economic recovery.

AELP member organisations can purchase a ticket for £100 to enable 10 employees per organisation to watch the Business Recovery Conference.  A very reasonable multi-delegate rate is available to non-members. And delegates can dip in and out during the two days, knowing that they can catch up on a recording of any session or workshop which they missed.  This flexibility and undoubtedly the fantastic content mean that it is absolutely worthwhile for you to visit the conference website and book your place today.

Jane Hickie is managing director of Association of Employment and Learning Providers