Hello. Has anyone found themselves at risk of redundancy while studying an apprenticeship? My company has just announced this. Luckily enough, I am safe for now but I don't know how long for. A large majority are going to be made redundant in 6 months time which I'm finding it incredibly daughting and feeling guilty. Please can anyone share their experiences? Also how did this impact on your HR role? Thanks.
  • In theory, an apprentice should be largely safe from redundancies because their job is to learn rather than to provide work of value to the business (so it's unusual for work of their kind to cease). However, an apprentice could easily become redundant through other means, such as a business shutting down entirely, or ceasing the function in which the apprentice is working.

    Assuming you are an HR student - which is why you're here - you need to bear in mind the reality that this is an opportunity for you. To observe the handling of large-scale redundancies up close is a tremendous learning experience for an HR student that you will be able to refer to both in future interviews and when facing the prospect of managing a redundancy situation yourself.

    It is easy for me to say that there's no reason to feel guilty. It's true, of course, because it's not like you're the business owner(s) who've decided to take this decision. But it's reasonable to feel daunted if you're going to be involved in delivering and managing the process. Redundancies of any scale are rarely less than difficult, because there will be a period of anger and resentment. Those selected will want to challenge their selections. There will be debates over what is and what isn't suitable alternative employment. There will be deep discussions about voluntary redundancy payments and why we should and shouldn't pay them. And senior management hair-tearing when the good employees they wanted to keep end up resigning ahead of the redundancies because they were inspired to go job hunting by the announcement (and the good ones always find new jobs easier than the ones you're looking forward to getting rid of).

    So sure, it is daunting.

    But I was just saying yesterday to a colleague that the mark of the true HR professional is when you write and print your own redundancy letter. People outside HR tend to see redundancy as a great and terrible evil inflicted on a workforce by an uncaring management. But our perspective from the inside is that it's just a step in the cycle of life and work and almost everyone who is made redundant will find fresh employment elsewhere. Our job is to make sure that it is done legally, fairly and compassionately... but also to make sure that it *is* done.
  • Redundancy is unsettling no matter what stage of your career you are at, so you are not alone with having these feelings. In my experience as more and more employers use the Apprenticeship Levy Scheme for professional development purposes as opposed to traditional early careers training, there are more individuals that could find themselves facing redundancy whilst on an apprenticeship scheme. However it is not all bad news as levy funded apprenticeships do have some redundancy protections built in, these include the ability to transfer your learning to another employer (some time restrictions apply), the ability to take a break in learning and resume at a later date and if you are almost at the end the apprenticeship you can finish even if you are not in employment due to redundancy. Whilst your situation is uncomfortable you will definitely have some learnings that you will be able to apply in your HR career.
    One of the most difficult elements of facing a potential redundancy is the sense of being out of control of the situation and coping with the rush of complex emotions experienced. Personally I have experienced redundancy twice. I would say that having a really robust consultation process with well trained managers who are able to have quality conversations, provide clear information and help a colleague to explore all options available can make all the difference in helping an employee to regain control of the situation and work out what their best options and next steps are. HR can really make a difference by leading with a fair, compassionate and listening approach.
  • In Wales, it is possible to transfer your apprenticeship to your new employer. I'm not sure how it works elsewhere but it's worth discussing it with your assessor/mentor. Hopefully, it will never get to it, but it can give you some peace of mind.