Over 8,000 people to be supported into new careers through Covid-19 Support Fund donation


  • Shaw Trust will establish a Care and Construction Academies programme to support the reskilling of over 2,000 vulnerable and disadvantaged people into a professional and rewarding career in care or construction
  • Learning and Work Institute’s New Futures programme will provide support to more than 6,000 people across the UK who need to reskill as a result of the pandemic

Shaw Trust and Learning and Work Institute are to support the reskilling of more than 8,000 people who have been affected by the pandemic. A donation of £6.3m from the Covid-19 Support Fund, established by the insurance and long-term savings industry, will enable the two organisations to boost the services they offer for adults looking to find a new job, change career or retrain as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Minister for Employment, Mims Davies MP, said:

“It’s great to see over 8,000 people are getting the help they need to build on existing skills and thrive in meaningful employment thanks to the Covid-19 Support Fund.

“Like our Plan for Jobs this will support some of the hardest hit by the pandemic, crucially helping them get back on their feet and into employment as we push to build back better.”

The latest ONS figures show that 2.6 million people are claiming unemployment related benefits, more than double the level at the start of the crisis in March 2020, and the redundancy rate has reached a record high.1 The sectoral nature of this recession also means that many workers will be required to retrain and change careers.  

The donation will enable Shaw Trust to launch a Care and Construction Academies programme across the Central and Home Counties regions to support more than 2,000 vulnerable and disadvantaged people affected by the Covid-19 pandemic to reskill rapidly and develop a rewarding career in care or construction. Shaw Trust has been helping people find the right career for more than 30 years and the new Care and Construction Academies will offer impartial careers advice, support to plan for a future career and easy to access, high quality, flexible learning and career-specific qualifications. These qualifications, which are required by regulatory authorities for all recruits, will enable participants aged 18 or over to access the care and construction sectors of the economy which are currently witnessing significant vacancies and skill shortages. Those taking part will also benefit from wellbeing and peer support giving them the confidence and skills to start their new career.

Learning and Work Institute’s New Futures programme will develop and deliver pilots to support workers who need to reskill as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The project will directly support more than 6,000 people across the UK. Five local pilots (two in England and one each in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) will be tailored to reflect the needs of local labour markets and the skills of local populations. 

The programme will provide targeted outreach activity to engage those disproportionately affected by the pandemic. It will deliver high quality careers advice and coaching, based on local labour market information, future skills needs and local skills profiles. The programme will also invest in, and build the capacity of, local voluntary and community sector organisations to provide sustainable career change support throughout the lifetime of this project and beyond.  

Colm Holmes, Chair of the Covid-19 Support Fund Governance Committee & Global CEO, General Insurance, Aviva, said:

“This donation will make a real difference to thousands of people. We’re thrilled to be able to support the work of Shaw Trust and Learning and Work Institute who carry out vital work enabling adults to retrain and find new career opportunities. We’re grateful to all the firms across the insurance and long-term savings industry for their generosity.”

Chris Luck CB MBE MA MPhil, Chief Executive at Shaw Trust, said:

"The launch of the Shaw Trust Care and Construction Academies will enable us to support more than 2,000 people to reskill rapidly.  This important new initiative, funded by the Covid-19 Support Fund, will open up new employment pathways through improving skills, qualifications and confidence in Health and Social Care and Construction. These are key sectors to support the recovery of the UK economy as well as build individual lives through good work." 

Dr Fiona Aldridge, Director of Policy and Research at Learning and Work Institute, said:

“We are extremely grateful to the Covid-19 Support Fund for its generous donation. The scale and nature of the economic crisis is unprecedented, and many millions of workers are finding that they need help to find a job, improve their skills or retrain for a new career.

“Learning and Work Institute are delighted to have the opportunity to work with local partners across the UK, to support thousands of adults to retrain and change careers. This investment will also deepen our understanding of how best to support adults to retrain, and influence the development of policy and practice more broadly.”




Notes for Editors

Shaw Trust is to receive £4.2m in funding and Learning and Work Institute will receive £2.1m to support both charities’ vital work in supporting adult reskilling in the UK.

1 ONS Labour Market overview, UK: January 2021


Media enquiries to:

Emily Cole, Mobile: 07860 189 072 Email: emily.cole@abi.org.uk

Sarah Aspinall, Mobile: 07725 245 297 Email: sarah.aspinall@abi.org.uk           


About the Covid-19 Support Fund

The UK insurance and long-term savings industry launched the Covid-19 Support Fund to help support some of the people hardest hit by the Covid-19 crisis. The Fund has raised £104 million, with £83.9 million having been pledged in voluntary contributions from firms within the sector and £20m provided by DCMS match funding.

The Fund works in partnership with the Charities Aid Foundation, and a network of partners, including the National Emergencies Trust and Business in the Community.

The key aim is to provide immediate relief to charities affected by Covid-19, as well as a longer-term programme of support for people, communities, and issues where there is the greatest need, including:

  • Community based charities that are under unprecedented strain
  • Charities supporting the most vulnerable – in particular, families and children living in poverty and older people in isolation
  • Initiatives to promote wellbeing and mental health across society



About Shaw Trust

Shaw Trust believes in fairness, equality and opportunity. That everyone has the right to live a decent and dignified life and an opportunity for rewarding work. We are a social purpose organisation challenging inequality and breaking down barriers to enable social mobility. Having grown from humble beginnings in 1982 in the village of Shaw in Wiltshire, finding jobs for disabled people, today we are a complex and diverse charity committed to employment as the core pathway to a better life.  We have grown through a combination of organic growth, mergers and acquisitions to be the UK’s largest Not-for-Profit (NFP) social enterprise in the employment sector.

For more information please visit: https://www.shawtrust.org.uk/ 


About Learning and Work Institute

Learning and Work Institute is a policy, research and development organisation dedicated to lifelong learning, full employment and inclusion. We research what works, influence policy, develop new ways of thinking, and help implement new approaches. Working with partners, we inspire people to learn and help transform people’s experiences of learning and employment. What we do benefits individuals, families, communities and the wider economy.

We want everyone to have an opportunity to realise their ambitions and potential in learning, work and throughout life. We believe a better skilled workforce, in better paid jobs, is good for business, good for the economy, and good for society. We want learning and work to count.

Our vision is for a prosperous and fair society in which learning and work provide opportunities for everyone to realise their potential and ambitions throughout life. Learningandwork.org.uk