All aspects of life have been affected by the current coronavirus crisis and businesses of all shapes and sizes, across industries, have suffered as a result of lockdown, social distancing and self-isolation.
To help employers, their apprentices and those that provide apprenticeship training and assessment, the government’s Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) has introduced a series of new measures to last the duration of the pandemic to help make it easier for apprenticeships to continue.
Some temporary flexibilities have also been introduced to cover those working at home, as well as continued training and endpoint assessment for anyone who has been furloughed, delays to endpoint assessment (EPA), applying the policy on breaks in learning and making alternative arrangements for EPA and external quality assurance.
These measures were implemented immediately and are applicable until further notice, with the developing situation and the current guidance under constant review. It will be updated as new information becomes available or the situation evolves.
Flexibilities have now been introduced to permit furloughed apprentices to continue training as long as no services are provided to the employer, or any revenue generated. Training providers are also now being encouraged to deliver training programmes remotely and via online learning as far as is practicable.
EPAs can be rescheduled if individuals are ready for assessment but this isn’t possible because of issues relating to COVID-19. Extensions may be granted to the assessment timeframe for anyone whose gateway is delayed.
Training providers and companies are also able to report and initiate a learning break if this interruption because of coronavirus is greater than four weeks. If apprentices are made redundant at this time, the government aims to find them alternative employment and continue their apprenticeships as quickly as possible, inside 12 weeks.
The training provider will need to support the apprentice in finding another employer, but the hope is that the government’s financial support package for businesses will prevent significant redundancies.
If a significant number of people are being made redundant, the ESFA will then try to provide exceptional practical support to secure alternative work for those affected.
Before the pandemic hit, the government had set out in its Budget that sufficient funding would be made available for 2020/2021 to support a rise in the number of new high-quality apprenticeships – which is certainly good news and something to bear in mind at this challenging time.
It went on to say that two culture changes are to be prioritised as part of the new £2.5 billion National Skills Fund: for people to be able to train and retrain throughout their lives and for both employers and the government itself to drive investment and fill skills gaps that are stifling productivity at local, regional and national levels.
For advice relating to advanced learner loan distance learning courses, get in touch with Encompass today.