Coronavirus / Covid-19 information

CORONAVIRUS / COVID-19 INFORMATION for businesses

We find ourselves in unprecedented times, the Covid-19 virus pandemic has changed everyone’s lives in the short term and following the Government guidelines to minimise the spread of the virus has meant most businesses are making significant changes to their business delivery model, to be compliant and maintain the wellbeing and safety of their staff and implement a business continuity plan.

For businesses that have apprentices they are part of the business flexibility, adaptation and continuity plan.

There has been several Government financial support programmes and guidance for business with support being provided by employer groups. Part of this guidance has been for businesses with apprentices with technical guidance being issued. This page is intended to help business interpret the guidance to support a business find a solution to maintain apprentices as part of their continuity plan and their talent for the future.

A key element of the apprenticeship is the partnership between the business and the Training Provider or College, this remains key. The Colleges and Training Providers have been working very hard to support their business partners to provide flexible solutions. They have developed a detailed understanding of the Government guidance to support the business to make the best decision to meet their continuity plan and maintain talent for the future.

Skill Up can also provide independent support to answer your questions, we are an independent team of specialists who will,

  • Listen to your questions to understand what information you require
  • Provide an answer based on the Government guidelines
  • Offer options where required

You can contact us here

fREE Business Skills Support Package from Skill Up Somerset

Review – refocus – recover

We can:

  • help you review skills gaps in your business
  • help you find the right skills training options and put you in contact with local training provision
  • offer impartial advice to help you refocus your learning and development aims
  • discuss the benefits of apprenticeships or traineeships to aid your recovery
  • support you in creating traineeship and/or apprenticeship opportunities
  • explain funding and the recently announced government incentives

We can help you to explore your skills requirements and put you in contact with local and relevant training provision please Contact us for more information about how we can help you.

Video - fREE Business Skills Support Package

I employ an apprentice, what are my options?

Business as usual – working/working from home – the apprentice is potentially able to continue with online learning, depending
on your industry. 

Key workers – your apprentice may have additional work and possibly additional responsibilities this could be evidence to help them demonstrate their skills for achieving their apprenticeship.

Furloughed – you can utilise the Government Job Retention Scheme – paying 80% of your employee’s salary – your apprentice is likely to continue their learning and remain on the apprenticeship programme, with many industries having online learning sessions.

Break-in learning – this would only be necessary if there were no other options to support the continuation of your apprentices training. Talk to your training provider or Marie at Skill Up Somerset to check out all your options first.

Business Frequently asked questions [FAQs]

Here are some Frequently asked questions [FAQs] from businesses to date:

A: Whether it is the Apprentice’s workplace Mentor, or the Apprentice themselves at risk, contact your training provider or college in the first instance for guidance on how they can support you and your Apprentice through this process. For impartial advice and guidance please contact us.

A: Training providers and colleges are working hard to follow Government guidelines and ensure that learning environments are safe for students, apprentices and staff.  You should contact your training provider or college to find out what measures they are putting in place, and to find out when your Apprentice can return.

A: Yes they can, there is probably going to be changes to the usual pattern of work and training, but as long as the apprentice remains employed, is being paid their contracted amount that is above the relevant National Minimum Wage and they can continue flexible training, they can continue their apprenticeship.

There can be many benefits to continuing the apprenticeship in these uncertain times and putting the apprenticeship on a break in learning is not the only option. This will be dependent on the business and the sector, but the apprentice may gain so much more experience and skills knowledge and behaviours towards the requirement of the standard in this situation. The apprentices off the job training can continue as most Training Providers and Colleges have adapted to online training and support models. The apprentice may be in a key role with a demanding work pattern and less time for off the job training, what an opportunity for developing skills, knowledge and behaviours in the workplace. Yes, off the job training may be restricted in this scenario, the apprentice could be offered access to online learning and support if appropriate. The need for a minimum of 20% off the job training is across the length of the apprenticeship.

A: Many Colleges and Training Providers have adapted their training to an online delivery and support model, maintaining the required off the job training. Most are applying the principal of doing what is best for the apprentice and the employer.

A: Yes, they can the apprentice can continue with the off the job training element of their apprenticeship, Government guidance issued on the 4th April makes this very clear.

If you’re an Apprentice

Apprentices can be furloughed in the same way as other employees and continue to train.

You must be paid at least the Apprenticeship Minimum Wage, National Living Wage or National Minimum Wage as appropriate, for all the time you spend training, even if this is more than 80% of your normal wages.

Here is the link to the Government guidance for the Covid – 19 Job Retention Scheme

A: The apprentice can continue with the off the job training element of their apprenticeship during furlough. Most Training Providers and Colleges have adapted their delivery and support models to be online.

A: The apprentice is progressing the knowledge and some of the skills and behaviours elements of the apprenticeship, it keeps the apprenticeship moving and the apprentice engaged.

A: New Government Guidance has introduced that the employer, the apprentice or the employer can instigate a break in learning. A break in leaning puts a temporary stop to the apprenticeship, the employers stops paying the Levy payment or their contribution for the apprenticeship and the College or Training Provider receives no funding during the period of the break. The apprentice does not participate in any apprenticeship activity.

A: The employer, apprentice and provider have 4 weeks before a break in learning needs to be instigated, this can be time to consider options in consultation with the apprentice and the provider.

A: The end date will get adjusted to take the break into account and will get extended, it is worth checking the apprentice employment contract and any potential impact.

A: This is dependent on the progress the apprentice makes towards their apprenticeship during this period and the assessment model of the End Point Assessment Organisation, this varies for each sector. Some EPAO’s are working hard to change their model to facilitate flexibility, in some sectors it is difficult to do this.

The Government has introduced flexibilities to allow for the impact of the situation on EPA, see below.

Disruption to assessment

With IFATE and Ofqual, we are introducing flexibilities to enable apprentices to complete their apprenticeship in the event of disruption to assessment, either separately to, or as well as, disruption to training and employment.

External Quality Assurance Providers (EQAPs) remain responsible for assuring consistency and quality of assessment. End-point assessment organisations (EPAOs) should engage with EQAPs throughout and agree arrangements in advance where remote assessment replaces face-to-face assessment, or where a simulated environment is to be used.

Apprentices who are deemed ready for assessment and cannot be assessed due to COVID-19 related issues, will be able to have their EPA rescheduled. Where there is a specified time limit for EPA post gateway, a further pause of 12 weeks is allowable.

Apprentices whose gateway is being delayed are allowed a break in learning, with an extension to the assessment timeframe. The training provider is required to record this in the ILR.

EPAOs may also propose to EQAPs modifications (rather than substitutions) to specified assessment methods provided that they do not compromise quality or the intention of the assessment. The authority for any flexibilities remains with the Institute, to whom any modification proposals should be referred.

More details of the above direction on the delivery of assessment can be found in the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education’s guidance for COVID-19 and in the FAQs below.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for apprentices, employers, training providers, end-point assessment organisations and external quality assurance providers

A: Yes, they can, a furloughed employee can participate in training. This may be an ideal opportunity to upskill the workforce. See the Government guidance on the Job Retention Scheme in the resources below.

Skill Up provides a free service to help research and source relevant funded and full cost training for your staff.

Resources

ACAS Website

Acas gives employees and employers free, impartial advice on workplace rights, rules and best practice. We also offer training and help to resolve disputes.

Government guidance for apprentices, employers, training providers, end point assessment organisations and external quality assurance providers

This document sets out guidance and some temporary flexibilities that we are introducing to the programme during the pandemic, and provides answers to questions related to these changes and other common questions.

Check if your employer can use the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Find out if you’re eligible, and how much your employer can claim if they put you on temporary leave ('furlough') because of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Any Questions..

If you have any further questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

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