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The government is being urged to redirect billions of pounds worth of unspent funding to help the poorest in society regain employment post-Covid19.

The Recovery and Resilience report from skills organisation City & Guilds found that the poorest members of society are facing the toughest route back to employment after losing their jobs as a result of the Covid19 pandemic.

The survey of 2,000 people found that people from lower socio-economic groups were less likely to believe that they have the support needed to find a new job in a range of areas. The picture still isn’t particularly promising for those considered to be in the middle class, but there is certainly a darker outlook for the working class.

Just 24% of working class people believe they have the right personal contacts to secure new employment, compared with more than a third of those in the middle class. Similarly, 18% of lower socio-economic groups feel they have the right support from recruitment consultants compared with 29% of higher socio-economic groups.

Additionally, 14% of respondents from lower socio-economic said they simply don’t know how they’re going to get a new job.

The report found that the affordability of training and skills development was a key barrier preventing people from getting back into employment. A third of people from lower socio-economic backgrounds stated that they could not afford training, and are also less likely to know how to access funding to pay for courses (26%). These figures rise to 59% and 43% respectively among people who are already unemployed.

With unemployment forecast to double to 4.5 million by the end of the year, figures included in the report suggest new job postings fell by 30% between February and May. The analysis suggests that those from lower socio-economic backgrounds work disproportionately in the industries most affected and at risk of mass redundancies, including retail, catering and hospitality.

Kristie Donnelly MBE, CEO at City & Guilds, said: “As we get the country back on the road to recovery and set employment levels on the right trajectory, it is critical that we act now to provide lifelines for those most in need. From supporting those from lower socio-economic groups and young people who we know will be most badly impacted by the spike in unemployment, through to supporting people from industries in decline as a result of the pandemic to retrain into new roles.”

She added: “We are calling on the government to urgently redirect existing skills funding to ensure that the budgets set aside for further education are being allocated in the right way, with the right focus to support skills development that promotes social mobility.

“There is no more time to consult. We have both the means to make this happen and the evidence to prove how much it is needed. This is our ‘Act Now’ moment.”

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