Written By Anna Clarke, Director of Employer Engagement, MK College

When the country first went into lockdown, it became clear that there were two things that were vital if we were going to keep disruption to a minimum – communication and empathy.

As we moved to online delivery, my first concern was the safety of my colleagues and our apprentices and employers. I spent a lot of time speaking to colleagues and making sure everyone was OK as we moved into a new way of working.

We worked hard to make sure all our apprentices and employers were informed of our move to online delivery, and other important updates, with regular communications – with safety being at the centre.

Through all of this, empathy and understanding has been at the forefront of my mind. The whole college was working from home, and everyone had different challenges to contend with, whether it was caring for elderly relatives or home-schooling children. Indeed, I found myself helping my 14-year-old daughter with her GCSE preparation while working from home.

We are a very sociable team, so we knew that not having face-to-face meetings and catch-ups would be strange for us. So we set up regular ‘coffee catch-up’ meetings on Microsoft Teams to maintain a sense of normality and to ensure we still got our daily dose of team banter.

Lockdown gave us the opportunity to look at how we could work on our own professional development. We now had the time to put in some bitesize training in areas like LinkedIn, account planning and customers traits, that was all delivered online and was a real hit with the team.

Despite the upheaval and uncertainty, over 20 of our apprentices from a range of areas, including Customer Service, Leader Supervisor and Assistant Accountant, all took on their end-point assessments during lockdown, and passed with flying colours – an amazing achievement given the circumstances and I am incredibly proud of all of them.

I am also extremely proud of my team for the way they have risen to the challenges that COVID-19 has thrown at us and they way they have gone above and beyond to give our customers the best experience possible.

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