The Department for Education (DfE) has encouraged the continued delivery of training to apprentices by taking advantage of eLearning as part of its guidance to both employers and providers on how they should support apprentices during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The government has confirmed that apprentices can be ‘furloughed’, meaning their employers can claim up to 80% of their wages under the job retention scheme put in place to deal with the economic uncertainty arising from the coronavirus pandemic.
Crucially, under this scheme, apprentices who are furloughed can still train. And employers must continue to pay their apprentices at the appropriate minimum wage for all of the time they spend training.
This means that employers must cover any shortfall between the amount they claim through the job retention scheme and the apprentice’s appropriate minimum wage.
And the DfE has recognised the potential for eLearning to play a vital role in this ongoing training given the way in which it can connect educators and learners with each other when in separate locations. Consequently, it is encouraging training providers to continue the delivery of training to apprentices remotely via this medium.
In addition, the DfE is offering other specific support and guidance to apprentices and their employers during these difficult times, including:
- Allowing the modification of end-point assessment arrangements, including remote assessments wherever practicable and possible.
- Clarifying that those apprentices ready for assessment, but who cannot be assessed due to Covid-19 issues, can have their end-point assessment rescheduled.
- Providing apprentices whose gateway is delayed with an extension to the assessment timeframe.
- Confirming that, where apprentices are made redundant, it is DfE’s ambition to find them alternative employment and continue their apprenticeship as quickly as possible and within 12 weeks.
In addition, employers and training providers can report and initiate a Break in Learning (BIL) where the interruption to learning due to Covid-19 is greater than four weeks, whilst routine funding audits will remain paused at least for the duration of the lockdown.
However, Mark Dawe, the Chief Executive of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) has emphasised that: “… providers should support furloughed workers and only resort to using a Break in Learning if the apprentice doesn’t want to undertake any training whilst they are temporarily stood down from work.
“Hopefully most furloughed workers will be keen to carry on and make use of this unproductive period. This is the advice we are giving and most providers we are aware of are taking until advised otherwise.”