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Back to News & Events Posted on 7 April, 2020

Apprenticeship Update

As part of Connect2Care’s commitment to all our employer partners, we’ve developed our training programmes to continue to support learners, whilst remaining compliant with statutory requirements. We’re fully equipped to continue delivering high-quality, interactive training to our apprentices on a one-to-one basis online - giving you one less thing to worry about during these difficult times.

Starting and continuing an apprenticeship

Rest assured, there’s nothing preventing your new and existing apprentices from advancing with their apprenticeship - even if you’ve had to furlough your staff. 

New apprentices are able to begin their training with us, even if they’ve been furloughed. At Connect2Care, we have an online application process to make sign-ups easy and contact-free. Please get in touch with your Relationship Manager or local team if you’d like more information about signing up a new apprentice.

Current apprentices who’ve been furloughed can continue working towards their apprenticeship, as long as they continue to hold a contract of employment, apprenticeship agreement, and commitment statement. There is no need to apply for a break in learning. We’ll work with you to evaluate each apprentice’s position to make sure they’re in a position to continue with their studies.

If you would like more information about furloughing an apprentice, please read the Government’s guidance, here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

National Minimum Wage

If furloughed apprentices are being paid 80% of their normal pay as part of the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, employers must ensure they receive at least the apprenticeship minimum wage (where applicable) for time they spend studying for their apprenticeship. The current rate is £3.90 per hour, increasing to £4.15 per hour from 6th April 2020. This may mean you need to top up your apprentices’ wages.

Apprentices who are under the age of 19, or who are in the first year of their apprenticeship, are subject to a different minimum wage to other staff. The table below is taken from the government website and shows the current minimum wage rates:

The ESFA have informed C2C that the requirement to pay the minimum wage for apprentices who are continuing their apprenticeship studies whilst furloughed only applies to those hours when the apprentice is working on their apprenticeship. 

Let’s look at some examples:

Mary is 30 years old and in the first year of her Team Leader apprenticeship. Her normal pay is £8.72 per hour, so her effective furloughed rate is £6.98. As her furloughed pay rate is already above the minimum wage for an apprentice in the first year of an apprenticeship there is no requirement to top up her salary for her study hours.

Will is 18 and working towards an Early Years Educator apprenticeship. Will's normal pay is £6.45 per hour, so his effective furloughed rate is £5.16.  As his furloughed pay rate is already above the minimum wage for an apprentice aged eighteen there is no requirement to top up her salary for her study hours.

Fran is 21 and in the first year of her Adult Care Worker apprenticeship. Her normal pay is £4.15 per hour, so her effective furloughed rate is £3.32. As her furloughed pay rate is less than the minimum wage for an apprentice in the first year of an apprenticeship her salary should be topped up to £4.15 for her study hours. In this instance you (the employer) should agree the number of hours a week that Fran will work on her apprenticeship whilst furloughed and pay an additional 83p per hour for those hours.

Delivering your apprenticeship training

Our Training Consultants are working hard to continue offering your apprentices the same high quality, one-to-one support they’re used to. We’ve developed a suite of interactive, online platforms which are available across all of our apprenticeship programmes:

Bringing Face-to-Face Online

During the time where we can’t visit apprentices in person, we’ll look to deliver our face-to face visits online. We’ll be using interactive technology to ensure apprentices are still supported on a one-to-one basis by their C2C Trainer.

STAR

Apprentices have access to our e-learning platform STAR. Here they’ll find lots of interactive resources and training activities to boost and develop the knowledge element of their apprenticeship.

Interactive Online Workshops

Our interactive online workshops are a great way to engage with the C2C Trainer and other apprentices to learn, ask questions and share experiences. These workshops will include fun, interactive activities that everyone can get involved in.

Functional Skills

Apprentices studying towards their Functional Skills exams will have access to our Skills Forward Platform. From here, they can revise and work on any of the areas they’re finding challenging. They will also be able to book extra one-to-one lessons with our dedicated Functional Skills Tutors and access our new Google Classrooms.

EPA Preparation

If apprentices are preparing projects or presentations for their end point assessment (EPA), now is the perfect time to start brainstorming and planning ideas. They can share these ideas and plan with their C2C Trainer during their next virtual catch-up. 

All this hard work will count toward the apprentices 20% off-the-job training. Just the same as the time they usually take off to study for an hour or two at work.

Any apprentices who have been furloughed can continue their off-the-job training. The time an apprentice spends participating in off-the-job training must be recorded for any apprenticeship who started their apprenticeship after 1 August 2019. Connect2Care gathers this information directly from your apprentice via our online E-Track system.

The minimum duration of an apprenticeship must still be followed during this unprecedented time. We’ll continue to work towards our apprentices’ planned end date of their programme or its components, such as maths and English, but there is the flexibility to exceed these planned end dates if necessary.

Additional learning support

The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) rules for learning support remain unchanged. Where an apprentice has a need for additional learning support, and where this can be delivered remotely, it can and should continue. Connect2Care will continue to evidence and provide extra assistance to all of our learners who need additional learning support. 

Redundancy

The ESFA Funding Rules allow for any apprentices who have been made redundant to continue with their apprenticeship programme without being employed under a new apprenticeship agreement. The level of ESFA funding will depend on how far into the apprenticeship an apprentice has reached.

If an apprentice is made redundant within six months of the final day of the practical period stated in their apprenticeship agreement, Connect2Care will continue delivering their apprenticeship training as long as the remaining elements and end-point assessment can be successfully delivered. The ESFA will fund 100% of the remaining costs of the price negotiated up to the maximum funding band.

Apprentices who are made redundant with more than six months before their final day may also continue their apprenticeship training with Connect2Care. In this situation, we’ll continue to deliver their training for up to 12 weeks, while the apprentice finds a new employer.

As part of our package of support, Connect2Care helps all apprentices who are made redundant to search for a new employer.

Breaks in learning

The ‘break in learning’ rules from the ESFA are largely unchanged. This rule allows an apprentice to pause their apprenticeship and return to it at a later date, rather than having to permanently leave their programme. 

The need to report a break in learning only applies to apprentices that can’t continue their programme for a period of more than four weeks. A break in learning may be the best course of action if gateway and/or end-point-assessment are delayed due to current Coronavirus measures. To simplify this process, breaks can now be initiated by Connect2Care or the apprentice’s employer, where previously only the apprentice could trigger a break in learning. 

For breaks in learning that were initiated during March 2020, employers cannot pause or stop payment to their training provider if training had been delivered (wholly or partly) in March. If a break in learning is initiated after 1st April 2020, employers should pause, not stop, the apprenticeship via the Apprenticeship Service. This ensures the apprenticeship can be resumed in future.

Reserving apprenticeship funding

Employers who do not pay the apprenticeship levy (companies with a payroll of less than £3m) remain able to reserve their apprenticeship funding via the Apprenticeship Service. This allows employers to reserve funding for an apprenticeship in advance of recruitment or an offer of an apprenticeship being made to an existing employee. You will still be required to turn this commitment into a reservation once you’ve confirmed your training provider and apprentice.