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Apprenticeships FAQs

Last updated: Friday 17 July 2020

Apprenticeships

The FAQ’s on this webpage will provide you with guidance in relation to your academic studies. All apprentices will now have received details of online tutorials/alternative delivery, skills coach visits where possible will still continue to take place, your skills coach will agree with you the most suitable way of holding this meeting.

The Education Skills Funding Agency have now released further guidance in response to Covid-19, the following link will take you to the latest guidance that has been issued:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-apprenticeship-programme-response/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-apprentices-employers-training-providers-end-point-assessment-organisations-and-external-quality-assurance-pro

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.

The Education and Skills Funding Agency 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.

We will keep students up to date in terms of further developments and when we will be returning to normal operations through the University’s social media channels, Canvas and the University website: www.wlv.ac.uk/coronavirus and the current student news pages: https://www.wlv.ac.uk/current-students/news/

You should continue to keep your record of off the job hours updated with any online or distance learning that you are undertaking and make sure that you log any virtual sessions that you attend. If you need advice in relation to recording your hours please log a helpdesk call through your e:vision account or you can discuss with your Skills Coach when you both meet to review progress against the apprenticeship. A key benefit to using the Helpdesk call is it’s very easy to track, update and have a record of your query and our responses, we will respond to your call as soon as possible.

The University has received the below message from the Council of Deans of Health to share with healthcare students:

“The current Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak presents a significant challenge for the entire world. We understand that this is a time of worry for all concerned. The situation is changing rapidly and all students are urged to continue to follow public health advice.

"The health and social care sector is expected to come under unprecedented pressure in the coming months. As healthcare students you all have skills which could be useful during this time. We do not yet know how students will be asked to contribute or how education programmes and placements will be affected.

"We hope to have more information very soon. You should expect most healthcare students to see changes to placement experiences and university-based education. We know that you are likely to be asked to help in some way over the next few months. As a university, we will do everything we can to support health and social care and we know that many of you will want to do the same. We will not however lose our focus on student support. We urge you to continue to come to us with your concerns. Further updates will follow soon.”

Further information around Healthcare apprenticeships and COVID-19 can be found on the following webpage  https://haso.skillsforhealth.org.uk/covid-19-apprenticeship-updates/ 

We understand that you have been preparing during your training period for the End Point Assessment of your Apprenticeship to successfully complete the course.  We are currently working with our End Point Assessment Organisations to get clarity on when these can take place and there has been further guidance issued by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education. 

https://www.instituteforapprenticeships.org/response-to-covid-19/

As End Point Assessment Organisations are working through alternative assessments we will keep you updated, but we may need to put a ‘pause’ by using a break in learning to allow time for the End Point Assessment to be rescheduled at a time when this can be supported.

The FAQ’s on this webpage will provide you with guidance on the University’s current position and is the main source of information for you and your Apprentices. The University is acting on guidance from Public Health England.

The Education Skills Funding Agency have now released further guidance in response to Covid-19, the following link will take you to the latest guidance that has been issued:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-apprenticeship-programme-response/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-apprentices-employers-training-providers-end-point-assessment-organisations-and-external-quality-assurance-pro

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.

The Education and Skills Funding Agency 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.

If any of your apprentices are self-isolating or they are unable to participate in any online/alternative delivery of courses please ensure that they notify the university on their first day of absence.

The updated ESFA guidance now allows employers and training providers to initiate a break in learning for their apprentices, please note a break in learning can only be applied where an interruption to learning is greater than 4 weeks. If you need further advice with regard to this please contact your account manager or apprenticeshiphub@wlv.ac.uk

The University has received the below message from the Council of Deans of Health to share with healthcare students:

“The current Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak presents a significant challenge for the entire world. We understand that this is a time of worry for all concerned. The situation is changing rapidly and all students are urged to continue to follow public health advice.

"The health and social care sector is expected to come under unprecedented pressure in the coming months. As healthcare students you all have skills which could be useful during this time. We do not yet know how students will be asked to contribute or how education programmes and placements will be affected.

"We hope to have more information very soon. You should expect most healthcare students to see changes to placement experiences and university-based education. We know that you are likely to be asked to help in some way over the next few months. As a university, we will do everything we can to support health and social care and we know that many of you will want to do the same. We will not however lose our focus on student support. We urge you to continue to come to us with your concerns. Further updates will follow soon.”

If you are unable to take part in any online tutorials/alternative delivery you should continue to log any short term absences on your first day of absence in the way you normally would with your Faculty. This can be done by logging a helpdesk call through your e: vision account or by phoning your Faculty student services.

In light of the developing situation the University has cancelled all Functional Skills testing that was due to be held in March and April 2020.The University will put further testing dates in place when this is possible.

Whilst testing has been cancelled, you will still be able to access the online learning resources and any webinar sessions that are being held for Functional Skills. Your Functional skills tutor will also be available to support you with your studies and online learning.

If you are on a break in learning from your programme this will mean that you should not be undertaking any University study, submit assessments, resits or take exams, complete KSB (knowledge, skills and behaviours) assessment or undertake functional skills learning during the time you are on a break.  It effectively ‘pauses’ your learning plan and we will agree your revised plan when your break in learning ends as this will need to involve your employer.

For Nursing Associate Apprentices this also includes not counting any practice hours or having any competencies signed off during this time that are aligned to the programme during the break in learning.

No, but a break in learning can be processed providing that both you and your apprentice intend that the apprenticeship will continue once it is safe for normal working practices to resume. A break in learning pauses the apprenticeship and pauses funding payments. Once the apprenticeship resumes, the planned end date is extended by the duration of the break in learning. A fixed-term contract of employment would need to be extended if it does not cover the extended apprenticeship duration.

Please note: A break in learning cannot be agreed for a period of less than 4 weeks. A period of less than 4 weeks is classed as disruption to study.

Yes, providing that:

  1. your apprentice will be working at least 30 hours per week and as part of this they have time available to undertake regular off-the-job training; and
  2. Your business does not pause or withhold funding

If the reduced hours are less than 30 per week we will need more information on the circumstances. Please contact the Apprenticeship Hub apprenticeshiphub@wlv.ac.uk for further information and guidance

Please see question I have some Apprentices who I need to/have furloughed.  What does this mean for their Apprenticeship? for further eligibility requirements that need to be met

 

Skills coach progress reviews to monitor skills and behaviours development should continue to the usual schedule during Covid-19 but instead of taking place as a face-to-face meeting this may be conducted via telephone, Skype, Microsoft Teams or GoToMeeting.

Apprentices are encouraged to keep in regular contact with their Skills Coach during this time and to make their coach aware of any concerns in relation to their apprenticeship or employment so they can be addressed. Where possible your line manager should still attend your skills coach review meetings or be made aware of outcomes from the meeting

Yes. The normal off-the-job training rules will apply, so training can be done as a block where this is agreed between the provider and the employer. The 20% minimum off-the-job training over the length of the apprenticeship will still need to be satisfied and all OTJ hours should be recorded by the apprentice.

Off-the-job training is a statutory requirement for an English apprenticeship. It is training which is received by the apprentice during the apprentice’s normal working hours, for the purpose of achieving the knowledge, skills and behaviours of the approved apprenticeship referenced in the apprenticeship agreement.

All off-the-job training must be directly relevant to the apprenticeship, but this can now be delivered more flexibly, including remote working.

Employers may set employees training tasks when they’re working from home, but where these are not directly linked to the apprenticeship, it cannot be classed as off-the-job training.

The University has received the below message from the Council of Deans of Health to share with healthcare students:

“The current Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak presents a significant challenge for the entire world. We understand that this is a time of worry for all concerned. The situation is changing rapidly and all students are urged to continue to follow public health advice.


"The health and social care sector is expected to come under unprecedented pressure in the coming months. As healthcare students you all have skills which could be useful during this time. We do not yet know how students will be asked to contribute or how education programmes and placements will be affected.


"We hope to have more information very soon. You should expect most healthcare students to see changes to placement experiences and university-based education. We know that you are likely to be asked to help in some way over the next few months. As a university, we will do everything we can to support health and social care and we know that many of you will want to do the same. We will not however lose our focus on student support. We urge you to continue to come to us with your concerns. Further updates will follow soon.”


Further information around Healthcare apprenticeships and COVID-19 can be found on the following webpage https://haso.skillsforhealth.org.uk/covid-19-apprenticeship-updates/ 

Apprenticeships (continued)

As an employer you have had to make decisions in relation to your employees during the Covid-19 crisis. We understand that this has been difficult for you to manage and work within the Gov.uk guidelines for accessing business support and at the same time considering supporting your Apprentices on their courses. The following sets out our approach in line with the guidance issued by the ESFA https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-apprenticeship-programme-response/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-apprentices-employers-training-providers-end-point-assessment-organisations-and-external-quality-assurance-pro  and HMT https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme  in trying to continue to support
Apprentices on their apprenticeship during furlough.

The employer must confirm the following applies for the Apprentice to continue in learning:

1) That the furloughed Apprentice is not producing revenue for the employer during this period
2) That they are not in work, but are being paid the Apprenticeship National Minimum Wage (£4.15+ per hour) or higher https://www.gov.uk/national-minimum-wage-rates 
3) The Apprentice can continue with their learning and skills coach reviews remotely/on line.


If you are a levy employer please do not pause/stop your Apprentice record as they are continuing with their training plan as set out in the commitment statement.

If the Apprentice cannot meet the conditions above then you will need to discuss with your Account Manager or Faculty lead whether a break in learning should be applied.

 

We recognise that the last few weeks have been fast moving and guidance has been coming forward at different times, so we are trying to update our Apprentices as we get information through. We will need confirmation from your employer that the following applies in order that you can continue with your learning and progress as normal while you are furloughed:

1) That you as the Apprentice is not producing revenue for the employer during this period
2) That you are not in work, but are being paid the Apprenticeship National Minimum Wage (£4.15+ per hour) or higher https://www.gov.uk/national-minimum-wage-rates 
3) The Apprentice can continue with their learning and skills coach reviews remotely/on line during this period

During this time you must still continue to record your 20% Off The Job (OTJ) hours. Where you are able to complete more than 20% of your OTJ hours you are able to do so providing that the activity is relevant to the apprenticeship and falls within one of the categories included in your apprenticeship commitment statement and is recorded on your off the job monitoring sheet.

The current ESFA guidance in the area of redundancy for Apprentices can be found using the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-apprenticeship-programme-response/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-apprentices-employers-training-providers-end-point-assessment-organisations-and-external-quality-assurance-pro

The most applicable section is extracted and shown below:

24.  What funding support is currently available to support redundant apprentices?

The existing funding support relating to redundancy is outlined in the table below. In additional to this funding support, a package of pastoral support is currently being put together and information will follow on this shortly.

Apprentice circumstances

Funding support

Apprentice is within 6 months of the final day of training

We will fund 100% of the remaining costs of the price negotiated between the provider and the previous employer, up to the funding band maximum.

Within this 6 month period:

- If the apprentice finds a new employer where they can complete their apprenticeship, the new employer assumes outstanding liabilities and benefits from that point.

- If the apprentice takes a job with an employer which is not related to their apprenticeship, we will continue to fund the remaining costs.

Apprentice is between 6 months and 12 months of the final day of training

We will fund the remaining costs of the price negotiated between the provider and the previous employer, for a maximum of 12 weeks.

Within this 12 week period:

- If the apprentice finds a new employer where they can complete their apprenticeship, the new employer assumes outstanding liabilities and benefits from that point.

- If the apprentice takes a job with an employer which is not related to their apprenticeship, we will continue to fund the remaining costs for up to 12 weeks.

- If a new employer is not found within 12 weeks, the apprentice is withdrawn from the programme but can return to the same apprenticeship at a later date, without the need to satisfy the 12 month minimum duration rule.

Apprentice is more than 12 months away from the final day of training

We will fund the remaining costs of the price negotiated between the provider and the previous employer for a maximum of 12 weeks.

Within this 12 week period:

- If the apprentice finds a new employer where they can complete their apprenticeship, the new employer assumes outstanding liabilities and benefits from that point.

- If the apprentice takes a job with an employer which is not related to their apprenticeship, we will continue to fund the remaining costs for up to 12 weeks.

- If a new employer is not found within 12 weeks, the apprentice is withdrawn from the programme. If they return at a later date to the same apprenticeship, they would need to satisfy the 12 month minimum duration rule.

The University has put together a package of supporting information in relation to Redundancy Support for Apprentices. The Apprenticeship Hub and Careers Centre have worked together to produce a guidance document and a video recording around redundancy support and what is available within and outside the University.

Guidance for apprentices at risk of redundancy summary document.

To access the video presentation, please use the following zoom recording link– https://us02web.zoom.us/rec/share/1O9eM7_95k1IQdL9y3iPUOkYPq7dT6a803Ma-6cLnhoKg1DXVknon8B1F2gvqBTN?startTime=1594120364000

If you need to speak to someone to talk through your options or current situation please contact the Apprenticeship Hub using the following email address apprenticeshiphub@wlv.ac.uk

Apprenticeship Wellbeing

The teams at Amazing Apprenticeships, Gen Healthy Minds and AELP have created a complementary online masterclass series exclusive for those responsible for supporting apprentices including training providers, to outline a range of practical solutions.

With the current changes taking place rapidly all around us, it’s more essential than ever to pay attention to our physical and mental wellbeing. With increasing amounts of uncertainty in our lives, combined with new work routines and less human connection, there are real and present threats to the long term mental health of anybody not prepared to take proactive measures.

One of the most vulnerable groups is apprentices, many of whom may have recently transitioned out of education and into the workplace. Even for those further into an apprenticeship programme will be at higher risk, with potentially less contact time, supervision and support.

The links to the series of webinars are set out below -

1.      Introduction webinar

2.      Making work from home work for you Practical strategies for productivity and performance

3.      Mind-set & Resilience How to cultivate a positive, growth-oriented mind-set and learn how grow through tough times

4.      Stress Management Practical strategies for recognising stress and overwhelm in ourselves and others, and how to effectively manage it

5.      Physical Wellbeing Simple advice to share with your apprentices for how to take care of themselves physically

.