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A table is filled with post-it notes, Sharpie pens and plans for a project titled: 'Code Breaker'

How can London College of Communication bridge the gap during the Covid-19 Crisis?

Written by Ben Walter
Published date 18 May 2020

With the Coronavirus pandemic expected to weaken the labour market, recent findings from the Resolution Foundation suggests school-leavers and graduates should try to weather the storm by staying in education. Our Business and Innovation Projects Manager, Ben Walter, explores the ways universities can continue to build students’ work experience and long-term career prospects by offering vital support to business and local communities.

Education, education, education!

Throughout the Coronavirus Crisis, universities have been demonstrating their importance to the UK, both internationally through Covid-19 research as well as through their support for local communities and businesses. However, the students of the ‘Corona Class of 2020’ could face years of reduced pay and limited job prospects long after the current economic storm has passed. How can universities bridge the gap between student recruitment, local communities and business support?

The Resolution Foundation (RF) think-tank states that the 800,000 school-leavers and graduates due to shortly join the labour market are the most exposed age group to a likely unemployment surge caused by the economic fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic.

A weak labour market will echo the 2008 financial crash, where the recession accelerated the number of young people staying in education for longer. The think-tank’s advice to young people is therefore unsurprising: stay in education longer rather than attempting to launch their job search.

In an RF webinar on 11 May 2020, viewers were asked to vote on the question: 'If you were leaving education this July, which route would you take?' The answer? 76 percent said they would stay in education, whereas just 24 percent said they would join the job market.

So, how can we help our local communities and businesses to bridge the gap in accessing students and resources?

At London College of Communication (LCC), our Business and Innovation team understands the importance of local partnerships, industry projects and pioneering innovative technology to support graduate employability and the London business sector. A number of our initiatives could provide the answer.

A table is filled with post-it notes, Sharpie pens and plans for a project titled: 'Code Breaker'
Students work with the Imperial War Museum on a Talent Works project. Image credit: Sundeep Verdi

Community

Talent Works

Talent Works provides local social enterprises, charities and community groups in Southwark and Lambeth with high-quality talent to help them grow while supporting students to get their first paid work – a job that may kick-start their career. Our latest iteration of Talent Works is set to launch in Autumn 2020, and will address these challenges by tasking students with exciting innovation challenges.

Widening participation

Not everyone has equal opportunity to enter higher education. The RF predict that a short-term lack of job opportunities will lead to “long-term scarring of young people” – particularly those from BAME backgrounds.

This is a challenge that LCC is acutely aware of. We have a long tradition of social inclusion, with over 40 percent of students self-classifying as from a first-generation/lower socio-economic background - the highest proportion across the Colleges of University of the Arts London (UAL). By partnering with schools and FE colleges in Greater London, our Widening Participation activities offer pre-16 and post-16 students level access to creative programmes that will help to develop their skills and experience as young creatives.

Student pointing to a visual presentation for South West Trains
Image credit: Talent Works.

Business

Digital Grid Partnership

Our Digital Grid Partnership will aid and identify the vital digital training requirements in SMEs (Small-to-Medium-sized Enterprises). In the current climate, the digital sector will need to change rapidly; many jobs now have a digital element and will increasingly do so in the future. It’s essential that Higher Education Institutions identify the gaps in existing qualifications, co-design further qualifications, and build the capacity of organisations so they can then go on to take student and graduate placements in the future.

In Autumn 2020, LCC will be offering students paid placement opportunities through this initiative, while our SME community will receive funded placement students to accelerate digital skills and innovation.

ACE IT

Our ACE IT project transforms the immersive tech ideas of SMEs into reality by supporting them to conceptualise, research and develop ground-breaking, future-orientated products, processes and services. By providing them with access to LCC's world-class facilities and expertise, this three-year project will provide £1.4m of funding to over 70 SMEs and create over 20 new products.

ACE IT’s unique offer enables companies to get ready for investment, product development and commercialisation, opening the door to resources which are usually difficult to access at affordable rates. This project will undoubtedly develop answers to technological challenges that the Coronavirus Crisis brings to both remote working and learning.

Short Courses

UAL Short Courses offer world-class teaching in subjects ranging from virtual reality (VR) and photography to graphic design, marketing and beyond. Whether it's for personal or professional development, we’ve got the creative industries covered, with over 150 short courses running on weekdays, evenings, weekends and during the holidays. Complete our Short Course enquiry form to find out more.

Collaborative Industry Projects

Collaborative Industry Projects are a great way for businesses to engage with the latest Gen-Z thinkers by testing new ideas and developing existing ones. We have experience in delivering projects with companies including Nike, Penguin Random House, Colgate, Palmolive, Westfield, JLL and South West Trains. Our tutors know how to get the best from our students and graduates, focusing their creativity and energy to create amazing solutions and providing fantastic experiences that embellish their career portfolios.

If you’re a business based in our local communities of Southwark and Lambeth, or further across London, please get in touch with me to discuss LCC's range of support services that can connect the skills and expertise of our staff and students with your business needs:

Ben Walter - b.walter@lcc.arts.ac.uk.

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