Timeline blog: 2020-2021 – COVID inspires an accelerated digital push

01 Jul 2024

In the penultimate look back at our twenty-year history, we reach 2020 and 2021.

In 2020 the World was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic which brought most things to a standstill. Two national lockdowns and social distancing laws meant that many people were unable to carry on working as normal. 

The construction industry was hit hard with 70% of companies reporting a decrease in turnover during that time. Businesses were impacted by trade and travel/transport restrictions, increased operating costs, and a significant reduction in demand with the cancellation or postponement of projects. The training sector was similarly hit with a fall in demand for courses and the temporary closure of colleges and training centres during the first lockdown period. 

It wasn’t all doom and gloom, though. Some of our approved centres used this period to improve their facilities or develop new business streams and since then have benefited from a rise in the number of candidates who have decided to change career and invest in training in the BSE sector.

One example of this is Michelle, originally a PE teacher at a secondary school who moved to an SEN role, helping children with online lessons during lockdown. The increased stress she felt led her to seek a career change and, encouraged by her brother-in-law, she started an MLP in late 2021.  She loved the training and has since found a much better work/life balance as a heating engineer. Busy during the days, but able to spend more time with her own children in the evenings.

A move away from paper

LCL Awards used the enforced period of isolation during 2020 to develop its electronic systems, moving much of its paper documentation onto digital platforms. New online examination software was developed, and the EVs started carrying out remote centre audits, which they found beneficial to the centres as well as themselves.

In 2021, LCL Awards launched a new e-portfolio to support its Managed Learning Programme and Smart Meter qualifications. The new software, designed by Peter Lambourne of Ecordia, was developed to give learners and assessors a more immediate way to record and give feedback on the practical experience learners undertook as part of their training. 


David Owen, Programme Area Leader for the Heating and Plumbing Programme Area at Mid Kent College Training at the Royal School of Military Engineering was an early-adopter of the software and said:


“The e-portfolio works really well for us. Because our learners are service leaders and ex-service personnel, spread around the country, the fact that they - and we - can access information from anywhere is great.  


“It’s a really good learning tool as well. The learners upload a write-up for each job they complete, record readings and can even upload photographs from their phones. We get instant access to all of this and can therefore comment and offer feedback straight away.”  


Later in the year, LCL Awards appointed Caroline Lay as a new director. She brought with her a great deal of experience in human resources from her role as HR Director at Logic4training, which she has held since 2017 and still does.