Feb 11 2021
Learning in lockdown:  Changes, Challenges and Champions

Without exception, 2020 was a challenging year filled with constant change, however I have never been so proud of the people I work with and the apprentices I have supported. From the beginning of the lockdown so much had to change in relation to how we were able to work and learn. We started by changing from face-to-face appointments to digital platforms which allowed appointments and learning to continue, but that was just the beginning. For many of our apprentices the use of these digital platforms was something completely new, support was provided to our apprentices through their mentors and employers, allowing them to move forward with progressive learning appointments. As an organisation, we moved swiftly from face-to-face workshops to online workshops; a challenge in itself; as you would assume the content is there, but the challenge was to adapt the content to still provide interactivity and engagement. Updating content and delivery was only one aspect of the support we offered, as we worked together with our apprentices to overcome the challenges they were facing.

A proportion of our apprentices are key workers, therefore a ‘one glove fits all’ approach would not have worked. The challenges and barriers were abundant in our changing landscape. Apprentices who were key workers faced the challenge of sending their children to school whilst having to go to work themselves, as you can imagine motivation and learning did not always make it to the top of their list. As mentors, to overcome this we supported our apprentices by allowing flexible appointments to accommodate each apprentice’s availability to allow motivation and learning to move further up their list.

Previously, some apprentices were able to use their employer’s computers and internet access to support their learning, however during lockdown for some this changed with many apprentices required to work from home. In support our learners we sent out paper resources through the post to ensure learning could continue. Some of our apprentices who were on Furlough and those working from home experienced other challenges such as home schooling their children which we can all agree is no easy task. During mentor appointments a common underlying theme was health and wellbeing. The health and wellbeing of our apprentices has always been important, but during these times we have seen this increase as a priority though supporting our apprentices with things such as time management and planning, including asking the one question that would get the most gasps ‘have you booked breaks and lunch into your calendar?’ – supporting work life balance became the foundation for learning and putting apprentices in the best frame of mind to do so. At this point our apprentices have become much more technically savvy and were sharing screens so they could show their mentors’ their new and improved calendar, with breaks and lunch scheduled in. There was a palpable sense of relief from apprentices during appointments as they scheduled work and home tasks while considering their own wellbeing. An example of this was one apprentice who had problem-solved their issues regarding back-to-back appointments by deciding to avoid only scheduling appointments on the hour and made some appointments for quarter past, half past and quarter to the hour. I was so impressed with how they had done this that I have followed their lead.

Going back to why I am so proud of our apprentices –with everything that was going on, never being able to step away from the pandemic and dealing with all sorts of other issues and barriers; they stepped up to the plate and persevered with their learning. Moving forward, in their assessments in
December and January they demonstrated their knowledge, skills and behaviours to achieve distinctions. Something I am so proud of as they overcame their barriers and ensured nothing would stop them.

Our apprentices motivate me through every day and during National Apprenticeship Week we should also take stock and consider their achievements and contributions.

Blog by Edward Demosthenous, IQA Assessor in Management and Leadership.


Apprenticeships - how can they support your organisation?
When: Feb 19, 2021 12:30 PM - 13:30 PM
Topic: Apprenticeships - how can they support your organisation?

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