We hope you are well in these difficult times.
This is a summary of the latest government guidance and the college's position on supporting your apprentices during this extraordinary time. Currently, the college buildings remain closed until further notice for the majority of staff and students, and we are operating as a virtual college.
We realise this generates some uncertainties about how your employee will complete their apprenticeship. We are working to ensure that no apprentice experiences long term disadvantage because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
We've answered some FAQs below:
Can I start a new apprentice now?
Yes. Please get in touch with our team who will talk you through what is involved. Some of our process have been altered to account for social distancing but all our services have remained throughout the period of COVID-19 disruption. See the Employers section of our website for more information.
Can I get access to the government’s incentive payments?
Yes, but only for new starters to your organisation and this does not include existing apprentices. See the Employers section of our website for more information and contact the apprenticeships team for more details.
My apprentice is continuing to work in the business - can they continue with their apprenticeship?
Yes, whether your apprentice is in the workplace, or working from home, they can continue to study towards achieving their apprenticeship.
Our team will be in contact with each apprentice, and develop an individualised plan to help them to continue learning. Our tutors will continue to use Smart Assessor to share resources, mark work and track off the job training.
My apprentice has been furloughed - can they continue with their apprenticeship?
Yes, this may be the perfect time for your employee to get ahead with their apprenticeship studies, and maximise their use of time whilst on furlough.
The government has confirmed that apprentices on the employee retention scheme (furlough), can continue to be trained provided that:
(a) The training does not generate revenue for the organisation.
(b) The apprentice is paid at least the apprenticeship minimum wage for the time spent training.
This means that time spent training is treated as working time for the purposes of the minimum wage calculations and must be paid at the appropriate minimum wage, taking into account the increase in minimum wage rates from 1 April 2020.
Employers will need to ensure that the furlough payment provides sufficient monies to cover these training hours. Where the furlough payment is less than the appropriate minimum wage entitlement for the training hours, the employer will need to pay the additional wages to ensure at least the appropriate minimum wage is paid for 100% of the training time.
Where a furloughed worker is paid close to minimum wage levels and asked to complete training courses for a substantial majority of their usual working time employers are recommended to seek independent advice or contact Acas.
If you are unable to pay your apprentice at the apprenticeship minimum wage for their time spent studying, then a break in learning can be triggered (see below).
What happens if my employee can not continue to study towards their apprenticeship?
If, for some reason (e.g. sickness or because of business needs perhaps), your apprentice is unable to continue to study at this point in time, please contact the college. We can then advise you based on your apprentice's individual circumstances. It may be that a Break In Learning is appropriate.
What is a break in learning?
A break in learning is when an apprenticeship is paused. During the break, the apprentice will not be expected to engage in study or record off the job training. The impact of this is that the end date for their apprenticeship will be extended, which may mean that you have to extend the end date of their employment contract. If your organisation pays the apprenticeship levy, triggering a break in learning means that levy payments to college will be paused.
What happens if my apprentice is made redundant?
If your apprentice is made redundant and they are in the last 6 months of their apprenticeship, then college can work with them to help them to complete their qualification. If they are not in the last 6 months of their apprenticeship, then the apprentice will need to find another apprenticeship in order to continue with their qualification. If this is the case, please let us know and, if appropriate, we will support the individual to seek alternative employment.
What about Functional Skills Maths/English/ICT?
If your apprentice is studying functional skills, one of our team will be in contact with them to arrange an individualised plan to help them to continue their studies. Your apprentice does not need to be paid for their time spend studying functional skills.
The exams are now able to be taken remotely, at home or in the workplace.
How do I contact the college?
Our staff are working from home. Your apprentice's tutor and facilitator are available via email and mobile phone. If you are not sure who to contact, or do not have the correct contact number, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and one of team will make contact with you.
Please bear in mind that some of our staff will be volunteering, caring for children, self-isolating or unwell themselves so they may need some time to respond to your enquires.
What if things change?
We will continue to update the COVID-19 page on the college website. Our facilitators will continue to be in touch with you and your apprentices.
You can also stay updated by following our social media platforms, which will be monitored as normal.
For more detailed FAQ’s related to your apprentices training during these unprecedented times, please access gov.uk for updated guidance.