Apprenticeship programme response to Covid-19

Guidance for apprentices, employers, training providers, end-point assessment organisations and external quality assurance providers.

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Scaling Up Employment Support Schemes
In his Summer Economic Update in Parliament on 8 July, the Chancellor announced a total of £1.6 billion will be invested in scaling up employment support schemes, training and apprenticeships to help people looking for a job. Young people, who are amongst the worst hit by the crisis, will benefit from this. This includes:

  • Businesses will be given £2,000 for each new apprentice they hire under the age of 25. This is in addition to the existing £1,000 payment the Government already provides for new 16-18-year-old apprentices and those aged under 25 with an Education, Health and Care Plan.
  • A £111 million investment to triple the scale of traineeships in 2020-21 ensuring more young people have access to high quality training.
  • £17 million of funding to triple the number of sector-based work academy placements in 2020-21.
  • Nearly £900 million to double the number of work coaches to 27,000;
  • Over a quarter of a million more young people to benefit from an extra £32 million investment in the National Careers Service.

Apprenticeship Funding
The updated 2020/21 funding policy document that sets the overarching policy for apprenticeship funding in England is available to read and download here.

Providing apprenticeships during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak
These are difficult times for employers, apprentices and providers of apprenticeship training and assessment. As part of the cross-government efforts to respond to the impact of COVID-19, the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) is implementing new measures for the duration of the pandemic, to make it easier for apprenticeships to continue and complete in a different way if they need to, or to break and resume an apprenticeship later when that becomes possible.

Full, regularly updated guidance is available here, key updates from the latest version include:

  • From 13 July, in addition to a limited number of 16-19 apprentices attending on-site delivery, providers can now make arrangements for 19+ apprentices to return to on-site delivery, where this can be safely accommodated. Read more about it in the apprentices returning to train in an educational setting section.
  • Confirmation that where an apprentice has been made redundant, but is continuing their apprenticeship study, they can claim Universal Credit (UC) as long as they satisfy all eligibility criteria. Read more about it in the redundant apprentices section.
  • Announcement that a service for redundant apprentices will be launched. Read more about it in the redundant apprentices section.
  • The temporary flexibility suspending the funding rule requiring level 2 apprentices to study towards, and attempt, level 2 functional skills assessments has been extended until 31 December 2020.
  • Two new frequently asked questions have been added to answer: 
    • whether apprentices who have been unable to return to England, due to the outbreak, but have been able to train and work remotely will still be eligible for support.
    • whether apprentices who would, if not for the outbreak, have started with their new employer within 30 days of leaving their last will still be eligible for funding when they start working for their new employer.

Support The Education and Skills Funding Agency provides:

  • Supporting employers, providers and apprentices to work together to mutually agree where and how this training takes place. This includes in the workplace where a provider is able to do so safely and where that workplace meets new ‘coronavirus (COVID-19) secure’ guidelines on ensuring the workplace is safe. It also includes training taking place in educational settings in line with the new the guidance on wider opening from 15 June 2020 and guidance for further education providers.
  • Confirming flexibilities to allow furloughed apprentices to continue their training and to take their end-point assessment, and to allow existing furloughed employees to start a new apprenticeship, as long as it does not provide services to or generate revenue for their employer.
  • Encouraging training providers to deliver training to apprentices remotely, and via e-learning, as far as is practicable.
  • Allowing the modification of end-point assessment arrangements, including remote assessments wherever practicable and possible - this is in order to support employers, providers and end-point assessment organisation (EPAOs) to maintain progress and achievement for apprentices.
  • Clarifying that apprentices ready for assessment, but who cannot be assessed due to coronavirus (COVID-19) issues, can have their end-point assessment rescheduled.
  • Apprentices whose gateway is delayed can have an extension to the assessment time frame.
  • Enabling employers and training providers to report and initiate a break in learning, where the interruption to learning due to coronavirus (COVID-19) is greater than 4 weeks.
  • Confirming that, where apprentices are made redundant, it is our ambition to find them alternative employment and continue their apprenticeship as quickly as possible and within 12 weeks.
  • Confirming that where apprentices are made redundant and are ready to go through gateway, that providers and EPAOs are able to make the necessary assessment arrangements to support these apprentices.
  • Confirming that we are extending the transition period onto the apprenticeship service. Funds available for new starts on non-levy procured contracts can now be used until 31 March 2021. All starts will be through the apprenticeship service from 1 April 2021.

This guidance should be read alongside the government’s COVID-19 guidance and support for businesses, in particular the salary support for furloughed employees, which also applies to apprentices.

Some of this guidance has also been broken down into articles for employers, training providers and EPAOs, as well as articles for apprentices. These can be found on the Essential coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance page.

Read guidance from the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IFATE) on the delivery of assessment.

Last updated: 16 July 2020