Skills

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Information on this page last updated: ​Tuesday ​14 April at ​​17:​58

​Skills and Training

Education and Skills Funding Agency Revised Guidance

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) is implementing new measures to make it easier for apprenticeships to continue, complete in a different way or to suspend and resume later. The documents on the below link identifies the revised guidance and some temporary flexibilities that are being introduced to the programme including some frequently asked questions.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for apprentices, employers, training providers, end-point assessment organisations and external quality assurance providers

In addition, there is also a dedicated helpline number which is open Monday to Friday 8 am to 6 pm and weekends 10 am to 4 pm: 0800 046 8687.


CITB to suspend industry levy collection

The CITB's board met on March 25 and gave final approval to suspend the issue of its levy bills, due for payment in 2020, for an initial period of three months. The bills will subsequently be issued for the full year. The delay will provide immediate financial relief to construction employers during the coronavirus crisis. In normal times CITB assesses and sends out levy bills each April in accordance with legal requirements. CITB levy bills are usually due for payment in May, but CITB will not seek collection on the suspended bills until August, or later if possible.

Sarah Beale, CITB chief executive, said, "Everyone in construction is facing extreme pressure at the moment and it's right that we provide the financial relief we can to protect employers and ensure that the industry is as prepared as possible for the economic recovery that will come when the crisis lifts." The CITB is reviewing all of its work to respond to the rapidly changing skills needs of industry. We are continuing to re-evaluate our services, funding and grants to adapt them to meet industry's changing priority needs. The CITB will provide employers with further detail as soon as it can.


CITB paying apprenticeship grants in advance

The CITB is making available advanced payment of apprenticeship attendance grants for second- and third-year apprentices to help keep skills within the construction industry amid the coronavirus outbreak. The payments will be available from 6 April for apprentices already subject to CITB grant support and who are currently in the second or third year of their apprenticeship for the remainder of the year. Employers will need to complete a very brief online form, which is being developed, via the CITB website. The advance payment is subject to the standard terms and conditions and the reclaiming of grant paid if the apprentice leaves employment or completes their apprenticeship early.

The payments are available to support 7,500 apprentices and will advance to employers up to £2,500 in attendance grant at a time when retaining apprentices is critical. Braden Connolly, CITB Director of Products and Services, said: “Apprenticeships are essential to safeguard the future of the construction industry amid the skills shortage. The coronavirus outbreak is putting employers, in particular smaller firms, under extreme pressure and CITB will do all it can to support them through this crisis. We expect this advanced payment will enable some of the smallest apprentice employers to continue with their apprentice and avoid the need to furlough.”  This measure is complementary to the support the Chancellor announced for furloughed workers on Friday and will give construction employers support to continue with their apprentice rather than laying off. CITB is also working with ESFA and other agencies to discuss the existing funding rules around breaks in learning for apprentices. CITB urges all employers not to dismiss any apprentices without first contacting the Apprenticeship team


Apprentices

The latest guidance from the Department of Education and the Education & Skills Funding Agency has been released for apprentices and their employers. These new measures outline the changes that the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) is making to the apprenticeship programme during the COVID-19 pandemic which will make it easier for apprenticeships to either continue through to completion but in a different format, or if they need to suspend their apprenticeship and resume later when that becomes possible.

The support includes:

  • introducing flexibilities to allow furloughed apprentices to continue their training 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 in order 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 ​four weeks
  • clarification on how to record breaks in learning so that funding is not unnecessarily disrupted
  • confirming that, where apprentices are made redundant, it is our ambition to find them alternative employment and continue their apprenticeship as quickly as possible and within 12 weeks

Please note that the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education website also has pertinent information for training providers, end-point assessment organisations and quality assurance providers.



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Please contact our dedicated helpline 0330 123 4714* or email coronavirus@nfrc.co.uk if you have any question not covered by these FAQs (for personal health issues please refer to the NHS). We are regularly monitoring updates from the NHS, Government and our industry partners to ensure we keep our information current and relevant.

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