The government has published guidance (including a number of FAQs) for apprentices and employers outlining the changes that the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) is making to the apprenticeship programme during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Institute for Apprenticeships & Technical Education has advised that every effort should continue to be made to ensure that apprentices can continue with their apprenticeship, and be assessed in accordance with current EPA (End-Point Assessment) plan and EQA (External Quality Assurance) requirements if possible.  Where this is not possible, providers should first consider whether it is appropriate to extend the apprenticeship in order to reschedule the EPA.

Specific measures outlined in the government guidance are:

  • 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;
  • 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 timeframe);
  • 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 the ESFA’s ambition to find them alternative employment and continue their apprenticeship as quickly as possible and within 12 weeks.