The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) have called on the Government to extend skills retraining in light of potential furlough redundancies.

New research by the BCC warns of redundancies which could be set to take place over the following months, leading to calls of more skills training for staff.

With the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme set to end in September, almost a fifth of companies surveyed (18 per cent) are considering making staff redundant.

A further quarter (24 per cent) said they would reduce hours or move staff to part-time. This has been specifically prompted by the increase in employer contributions over the months of August and September.

Around one in seven (13 per cent) have considered cancelling recruitment or investment plans in order to meet the demands of higher employer contributions.

The call to extend skills training comes as separate research finds that one in three people who are still on furlough include workers over the age of 50.

A study by Rest Less shows that this group is particularly prone to long-term unemployment as well as being more likely to face discrimination in the recruitment process due to their age.

In addition, the City and Guilds group also published research which showed older workers are at the highest risk of being left behind in terms of formal workplace training.

Only half of older workers surveyed by the body had received formal workplace training over the last five years, significantly lagging behind other age groups.

As such, the BCC has strongly urged the Government to consider expanding skills training to ensure it is accessible to all, especially older workers who may otherwise miss out.

Jane Gratton, Head of People Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, said:

Today’s changes to the furlough scheme will likely result in many thousands of people being released back into the labour market, as employers who are still struggling to recover from the recession are forced to make redundancies and cuts to working hours.

With widespread skills shortages across the economy, some will find new jobs where their skills are in demand, while others will need to retrain for opportunities in a different sector.

Whether furloughed workers are returning to the workplace or the wider labour market, it is crucial that employers and the government give them the support and training they need to be re-engaged and productive. Alongside rapid retraining opportunities, government should extend the Kickstart scheme into 2022, and expand it to enable older workers to gain new skills and experience.


*To obtain these results, the BCC surveyed over 250 businesses with employees still on furlough.