While there is a considerable amount of uncertainty in the world surrounding Coronavirus, 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 their time in isolation gaining new skills and knowledge to support them once this is over.
In just two weeks, national training provider, Learning Curve Group have generated over 15,000 expressions of interest to study one of their distance learning qualifications after launching their #EducateWhilstYouIsolate campaign.
The campaign has a core focus to support local communities by providing high quality online learning across key areas of priority at this extremely challenging time. Working alongside local colleges, the aim is to give individuals access to online training to raise skill levels, increase social mobility and generate new employment opportunities – especially within current Key Worker occupations.
Brenda McLeish, chief executive of Learning Curve Group, said: “Our #EducateWhilstYouIsolate campaign 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 the 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.”
Multiple colleges across the country have backed the Learning Curve Group campaign to keep individuals studying and learners on track throughout the crisis.
Lorraine Heath, deputy principal for curriculum, performance and innovation at Basingstoke College of Technology, said: “There has been a significant demand recently for adult learning courses such as Children and Young Peoples’ Mental Health, Nutrition and Health, Counselling Skills and Business Administration to support wellbeing during isolation and career progression. We are pleased to be working with Learning Curve Group who provide the online resources and support delivery to continue learning.”
The initiative has allowed colleges to meet that increased demand and support learners locally to develop their skills and knowledge. Kam Dehal, vice principal – business development (college group) commented: “During this period of isolation, we are keen to continue to deliver access to learning across our wider communities. We are extending our reach and responding to the increased demand so that we can support our local residents to be able to develop their skill set and focus on supporting their mental wellbeing during this time. We are delighted to have been able to join forces with the Learning Curve Group in order to support this essential initiative”’
One learner, who preferred to remain anonymous said, “Having the ability to do online courses has helped me improve my skills and knowledge and also my depression as it gives me something to focus on, especially in this time of uncertainty, I have the ability to do it wherever and whenever I want to and have a bit of ‘me’ time.”
After the success of the #EducateWhilstYouIsolate campaign, the provider has also launched a #KeySkillsForKeyWorkers campaign. With qualifications such as End of Life Care, Infection Control and Customer Service suitable for those volunteering as key workers throughout the crisis, or as CPD for key workers who may be isolating.
On Friday 3rd April, the government released a publication that said FE providers should continue to deliver learning online, ‘including for ESFA funded AEB, via existing sub-contracting arrangements to support existing learners to successfully complete their courses… or retain evidence where this is not possible’ it also suggested that providers should be supporting ‘furloughed workers to enhance existing or develop new skills’.
There has never been a higher demand to study online, and whilst this is a rapidly changing situation and one that no FE provider has experienced before, the message to FE providers from the government is clear – online learning is key to supporting learners through this crisis.
If you’d like to support Learning Curve Group’s campaign and support the demand from learners in your area, find out more here: www.learningcurvegroup.co.uk/landing/isolate