Back2Work is one of the biggest training providers in the country. The company works with employers and unemployed people to teach those who are out of work the skills they need to get back into a great job.

Among the courses Back2Work provides are TQUK Level 3 Certificate in Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools (RQF), TQUK Level 3 Certificate in Understanding Mental Health (RQF) and TQUK Level 3 Certificate in Understanding Autism (RQF), and we’re hugely proud to be working with an organisation that makes such a positive impact on the lives of people around the country.

We’re particularly proud to be working with them during the COVID-19 period because two of our qualifications – TQUK Level 2 Award in Prevention and Control of Infection (RQF) and TQUK Level 2 Certificate in Cleaning Principles (RQF) – have been used by Back2Work to train up additional staff, get them to the front lines and empower them to play a vital part in the nationwide effort against coronavirus.

We spoke to Back2Work’s AEB Employed Delivery Manager Mark Brennan, who explained the role the company has played during this time, both within hospitals and beyond. “Our PET courses, which include infection control and cleaning principles, have allowed learners to gain work within the Nightingale hospitals.

“We have also delivered courses in Mental Health for Children and Young People which has seen a big uptake from School workers who we believe are also front line workers. The skills they will gain by studying with us will have a profound effect on how they will be able to support the young people when they return back to school.

“This is a changing world and the more we can train people in mental health to support our next generation the better!”

The qualifications we’ve developed have been received well by both Back2Work and their learners, Mark continues, and the process between TQUK and B2W has always been a dynamic one. “We have delivered several intakes over the last three months with a great response, and we are now delivering infection control, which will support the healthcare workforce now and also into the future.

“Working with TQUK has been great for the business within the employed section. We run over 15 different qualifications with TQUK, and I personally find them to be very approachable and receptive to change. They have a good understanding of what we are trying to achieve in developing skills and knowledge which can be applied.”

Getting Britain back to work

The ongoing COVID-19 situation has given businesses across the country significant problems to solve, and Back2Work is no different. “I think the big challenge was getting all the workforce working remotely,” Mark says. “We had a big office space in Manchester where all the admin, quality and compliance team used to work as well as three classroom spaces for delivery.

“We also needed to move very quickly to get our enrollment teams set up so we can enrol online and over the phone to our courses. Then of course we had the maths and English initial assessments to complete online. So it was a whole load of changes which the teams have adapted to very well. Although we are still refining our processes and improving day by day we now have some robust systems in place to ensure learners can start their programme of study and achieve.”

Of course, the outbreak of coronavirus continues to be an issue. Despite some relaxations lockdown is still in place, and thousands of staff up and down the country are still furloughed. With some industries being hit hard by the crisis, it’s likely job losses and a significant recession are set to follow.

As a result, Mark says that skills training will be a critical part of the country’s bounce back, and he’s already seen how online courses have helped people develop through lockdown. “This is a good time to update existing skills for CPD purposes but also an opportunity to retrain within new skills to open up new doors into differing employment opportunities.

“I think it’s important that once the immediate threat is over and we go back to the new normal people will just want to upskill and improve their skills and knowledge. We have seen an increase in popularity for our online employed learning during the last two months which shows a keen appetite for learning and improving skills.

“Learning and developing your own knowledge is great for mental health and a sense of achievement to complete a qualification to improve yourself for the future.”

Culture and collaboration

We’re proud to be working alongside a company like Back2Work, and Mark himself is proud of the company’s culture and flexibility. “I think it’s the company’s ability to adapt quickly to the changing nature of the FE education landscape that I’m most proud of.

“As a company we use Kaizen as one of our core values and this is something that we all work hard to ensure we provide our learners with high quality education to improve their skills and knowledge.”

As with many other businesses, COVID-19 has brought out the best in Back2Work, something Mark is particularly pleased with. “I was very happy with our ability to be reactive to the changes COVID brought and our ability to move all provision online within a week.

“Within my area of employed learning the staff have been fantastic and have had a very can-do attitude. We now deliver all courses online which include course induction and masterclasses delivered via Microsoft Teams. We’ve had some great learner feedback, with over 96% of learners saying they would recommend our courses to a friend, which speaks volumes for the hard work and dedication of the delivery team.”

And, of course, TQUK has been there every step of the way. “TQUK have been very supportive over this period, particularly working with their quality team to get approvals for new qualifications which we deliver, in a short space of time,” Mark added.

“EQA has been a supportive process but also working with the qualification development team to look further ahead as to what the needs of our learners will be over the coming months and devise new and exciting qualifications to develop the skills of the nation.”

2020 has been an unpredictable year, but one thing’s for sure as we move into its second half: we here at TQUK will be with Back2Work, and all of our centres, every step of the way as the country enters the new normal.