The new COVID-19 guidance for apprenticeships: what we think
The Government has imposed strict guidelines across the country to reduce the spread of COVID-19. It’s affecting all areas of daily life – work, schools, shopping, healthcare and apprenticeships.
Here’s an overview of the Government’s guidelines around apprenticeship delivery:
Breaks in learning
Under the new guidelines, breaks in learning can exceed 4 weeks, and can now be initiated by the employer or training provider. Extended breaks in learning will not be funded.
The sector was expecting breaks in learning to be increased, but many hoped the breaks would be funded so providers could maintain cash flow during these uncertain times. Unfortunately, this has not happened, and funding will be suspended after 4 weeks.
Payments to training providers
Under the new guidelines, apprenticeship training providers will continue to be paid retrospectively for the training they’ve delivered and can evidence. Providers still need to complete monthly ILR submissions and keep a record of all training for compliance and audit checks. Providers are eligible for a wide range of financial support that has been issued by the Treasury to support business nationwide.
This has come as a bit of a shock as many providers were hoping for more support from the Government. Many people were hoping that training providers would receive funding based on a profile of their income over the 3 months previous to COVID-19, or that they would receive grants to support their income. Providers now need to do everything they can to support learners remotely, provide options for employers, take advantage of financial support, and keep their business afloat.
According to the guidelines, apprentices who aren’t taking a break in learning still need to meet the 20% off-the-job training requirement.
This is going to be very difficult for many learners. Apprentices who are working from home won’t be able to attend scheduled off-the-job learning sessions. And others who are required to complete business-critical roles in response to the pandemic won’t be able to take time away to complete learning. Many people were hoping the 20% rule would be relaxed for now, but that isn’t the case at the moment.
Where possible, providers are being encouraged to provide training remotely and via elearning to help apprentices maintain their off-the-job training. Apprentices that are furloughed – are at home due to COVID-19 restrictions but are still employed – can use their time at home to complete learning remotely. Furloughed apprentices can take this as an opportunity to complete off-the-job training remotely.
The guidelines state that EPAOs can introduce remote assessment methods for EPA – as long as they don’t impact the quality of assessment – but the modified methods need to be approved by the Institute for Apprenticeships. If apprentices can’t be assessed remotely, the gateway can be extended by 12 weeks.
This is good news for apprentices who can be assessed remotely. Hopefully many EPAOs will adapt to remote methods, like professional discussions, portfolio showcase or even online observations.
The guidance strongly recommends that remote teaching and learning methods should be used wherever possible.
When done properly, remote learning can be really impactful for both learners and providers. Learners can continue progressing and maintain momentum with their programme as much as they can from home, and providers can protect their funding as much as possible.
OneFile’s apprenticeship software has been designed to support remote learning. You can access the whole system online to create plans, set activities, provide feedback and even complete remote reviews – all from the safety of your own home.
"Thank goodness for OneFile this week. They've enabled us to keep working with our apprentices in this uncertain time.'
“I just wanted to say that I was so pleased with this morning's webinar with OneFile. In a short space of time, you interpreted my requirements for uploading distance learning work and guided me through creating a learning and assessment environment using my existing resources. It's during these telling times that companies like OneFile can really demonstrate a support service. Many thanks - 1st class."
Chris Baker, PGL Training Limited
To see how OneFile can support you and your learners, book a demo with a member of the team.