The government has this evening released a package of measures that it hopes will help apprenticeship training providers amid the coronavirus pandemic.

It also applies to apprentices, employers, end-point assessment organisations and external quality assurance providers.

Here are the key points from the guidance:


1. No funding support

The government appears to offer no funding support for apprenticeship training providers during the crisis.

Its guidance says providers will only continue to be paid “retrospectively for the training they have delivered and can evidence”.

Government policy “does not allow payment for services in advance of delivery,” it claimed.

The ESFA added that it “reserves the right to recover funding which was claimed for and paid to the training provider, but for which the training provider was found not to be eligible”.


2. Face-to-face end-point assessments can be rescheduled or ‘modified’

End-point assessment organisations and external quality assurance providers are encouraged to engage and agree where remote assessment can replace 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.


3. Breaks in learning rule softened – but providers still won’t be paid

Funding rules currently state that a break in learning must be initiated by the apprentice.

The government will now allow employers and training providers, temporarily, to also report and initiate a break in learning where the interruption is greater than four weeks.

Training providers will not receive payments for learners who are on breaks in learning.


4. Go to Treasury if you’re struggling financially

The guidance states that where the COVID-19 outbreak results in loss of income due to ceased or reduced delivery of training, training providers “should consider their eligibility and apply for the wide range of financial support that HM Treasury has already announced for businesses”.


5. Apprentices made redundant to find a new employer within 12 weeks

Where apprentices are furloughed (granted a leave of absence) or placed on unpaid leave, employers and training providers have been urged to consider whether a break in learning would be appropriate.

Where apprentices are made redundant, it is the DfE’s ambition that they will be supported to find alternative employment, and continue their apprenticeship within 12 weeks.

The training provider “must support the apprentice to find another employer” where redundancies take place.

In instances where a significant number of apprentices are made redundant, the ESFA said it will attempt to provide “exceptional practical support to the apprentices and training providers to secure alternative employers for the individuals”.


6. ‘Distance learning’ encouraged

The government is “encouraging and supporting employers, and training and assessment providers, to make use of distance-learning tools wherever possible and practicable to do so”.


7. Arrangements for disrupted training delivery in March

Where training has been delivered this month, but a break in learning has begun, or is expected to start before the end of March, to ensure payment for these apprentices, training providers have been told to:

    include these learners in their March ILR submission as on programme

    record, retain and submit evidence in the usual way

    record a break in learning in their April ILR submission

    ensure that these learners are not recorded as permanently withdrawn from their apprenticeship, by entering the ‘Completion status’ field of the ILR as ‘6’, denoting that the learner has temporarily withdrawn from learning due to an agreed break in learning

The DfE makes clear that training, which cannot be delivered in March, but for which the training provider receives payment, should be delivered within the “remainder of the apprenticeship, and the previously agreed total cost of the apprenticeship, before the planned end-date”.

Where the training is not completed, the ESFA “reserves the right to recover payment”.


8. Employers urged not to pause or stop payments to providers for March

During March, levy-paying employers “should not use the apprenticeship service to ‘pause’ or ‘stop’ payments to the training provider, where some training has been delivered in March”, the DfE says.

Doing so will result in the training provider not receiving any payment for these apprentices.


9. Arrangements for April and beyond

For a break in learning greater than four weeks that begins on or after 1 April, the apprenticeship should be ‘paused’ by the employer through the apprenticeship service at the point the break in learning begins.

The employer should “not ‘stop’ the apprenticeship through the apprenticeship service as this will prevent it resuming subsequently”.

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  1. Terry Bentley

    Wow. Can’t believe the government has decided to kill apprenticeships. Apprenticeship providers can’t furlough staff as they’re supporting learners so no 80% salary grant. Nobody will be stupid enough to take an expensive loan out to sustain an ITP if this is how lowly the government values apprenticeships. What a brutal kick in the face from Gavin Williamson and Gillian Keegan.

  2. David Watson

    We have spoken to the bank, they want to know everything, they want forecasts, how do we get a business interruption loan when we have no funding to pay for it nor even a guarantee that it will still be there or when this will end, the 330bn is a farce we cannot access it, we cannot prove the lenders we can pay it in 12months, this is a disgrace and they need to hang their heads in shame. I have staff crying, learners crying, this is not on

  3. Anonymous

    So many questions. My employer will not let me go home and is currently making me stay at work without any training on the same apprenticeship wage. I work for a well known pet store as a grooming apprentice and they’ve basically said if I leave I will loose my apprenticeship. (Threatening much) So I have to work on the shop floor as a key worker. For no more money. Unsure how this even works legally. Crazy.

  4. Ben Carter

    I am a apprentice with a college doing barbering. I haven’t been paid since the shop has been closed and I haven’t heard or been told any information on how I will be getting paid . My boss is self employed so will the government give him extra money for my wage when they pay to support him or is there a way the government are paying apprentices

  5. Izzy Elleman

    I work as an apprentice in a nursery and we are partially closed at the moment. I am a part of the 5 people skeleton staff team but am currently only allowed to work an 8 hour day due to being 16 (17 in less than a month.) I know that some rules such as ratios have been relaxed with nurseries but am I allowed to work the full work day? (10 hours) It is making work a lot more difficult when I’m only allowed to work 8 hours so do you think the rules can be relaxed due to the necessity of me being at work?