Guidance has been updated to confirm that from 13 July 2020 providers can welcome back 19 plus apprentices into educational settings, that the flexibility to suspend level 2 functional skills for level 2 apprentices has been extended, and to provide more information on support for redundant apprentices.

This is a difficult time for apprentices, employers and providers of apprenticeship training, assessment and external assurance.  The government is committed to supporting apprentices, and employers continue to build the skills capabilities the country needs now and in the future.  There are four English Apprenticeships currently available to the Finishes and Interiors Sector:

  • Interior Systems installer – Dryliner
  • Interior Systems installer – Ceiling and Partitions Installer
  • Plasterer – Solid
  • Plasterer – Fibrous

The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) is responding by taking steps to ensure that, wherever possible, apprentices can continue and complete their apprenticeship, despite any break they need to take as a result of COVID-19, and to support providers during this challenging time.

The document sets out guidance for apprentices, employers, training providers and assessment organisations in response to the impact of COVID-19.  It outlines the changes that the ESFA is making to the apprenticeship programme during the COVID-19 outbreak.

With the introduction of urgent government measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and a rapidly developing situation, these guidelines reflect arrangements applied at the current time.  This guidance will be kept under active review and updated regularly with further developments.

The support ESFA are providing includes:

  • supporting employers, providers and apprentices to work together to mutually agree where and how training takes place. This includes in the workplace or assessment centre where a provider is able to do so safely and where that workplace or centre meets new ‘coronavirus secure’ guidelines on ensuring the workplace is safe.  It also includes training taking place in educational settings in line with the new guidance on wider opening from 15 June 2020, guidance for further education providers, and guidance on what FE colleges and providers will need to do from the start of the 2020 autumn term.
  • 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 organisations (EPAOs) to maintain progress and achievement for apprentices.
  • clarifying that apprentices ready for assessment, but who cannot be assessed due to 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 COVID-19 is greater than 4 weeks.
  • confirming that, where apprentices are made redundant, it is UK Governments ambition to find them alternative employment and continue their apprenticeship as quickly as possible and within 12 weeks. If you are making apprentices redundant please contact FIS.
  • 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 ESFA 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.

UK Government are keeping the developing situation, and guidance, under review and will continue updating this guidance as new information is available and/or the situation evolves.

ESFA information 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.

ESFA have also broken down some of this guidance into articles for employers, training providers and EPAOs, as well as articles for apprentices.  These can be found on the ESFA Apprenticeship Service Help page.

Further information is available from the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education

Provisions IFATE on the delivery of assessment.