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Apprenticeships, News

COVID 19 – Apprentice and Employer FAQs

 

Bath College is committed to supporting our apprentices and employers to progress with their programmes during the COVID-19 outbreak.
 
We are continuously investigating new and exciting way to ensure that apprentices are provided with a high quality learning experience during these challenging times.
 
This resource has been designed to support our apprentices and employers by providing detailed information on a range of circumstances which you may be facing related to your apprenticeship programme.
 
If you cannot find your answers here please send your questions to your assessor who will pass it on to our Apprenticeship team who will ensure that you query is answered
 

Bath College approach to supporting Apprentices during COVID-19

 
The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) is implementing new measures, for the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic, to make it easier for apprenticeships to continue and complete in a different way. This is designed, where possible to prevent a break in learning and avoid an apprenticeship programme needing to be resumed at a later date. This will allow apprentices to continue with their learning and complete as planned.
 
The Bath College approach to learning and assessment in the current situation is:
• Delivering training to apprentices remotely and via e-learning as far as is practicable
• Using remote end-point assessment arrangements wherever practicable and possible
• Ensuring that apprentices ready for assessment, but who cannot be assessed due to COVID-19 issues, can have their end-point assessment rescheduled.
• Providing extensions to the assessment timeframe if Gateway needs to be delayed
• 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 we may update these details from time to time as we continue to be informed by the ESFA.
 

Frequently asked questions and further information

 
These questions and answers will be updated regularly in line with advice from central government, the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) and Public Health England (PHE).
 
For queries not covered by this guidance, please contact apprenticeships@bathcollege.ac.uk to speak with one of the Bath College Apprenticeships team or contact the National Apprenticeship Service helpline who can be contacted by telephone on 0800 150 600 or email helpdesk@manage-apprenticeships.service.gov.uk.
 
This section covers anything that affects how learning will be conducted and learning activity that will be carried out.
 

Changes to learning and employment

 
1. If I need to self-isolate, what will happen to my apprenticeship?
If you need to self-isolate, please talk to your employer and assessor about the best way to continue with your apprenticeship.
 
Options include:

• an increase in online learning
• a short pause of less than 4 weeks in your apprenticeship while you are in self- isolation. This will not affect the planned end-date of your apprenticeship
• re-scheduling a planned end point assessment activity for a later date.
 
The appropriate steps will be agreed based on you and your employer/training provider’s situation.
 
2. I need to take care of myself/a family member. Can I continue my apprenticeship learning at home?
 
Yes, this will be possible using online learning and telephone/video conferencing support. Please contact your assessor for further information.
 
3. My employer is enforcing a work from home policy and my classroom provision has been withdrawn. What are my options?
 
• Bath College will provide digital or distance learning solutions in most cases.
• In unique cases, agreed with the college, you can take a short pause if it is likely your apprenticeship can resume in less than 4 weeks, and you will still be able to complete your apprenticeship by the planned end-date.
 
Please talk to your assessor to agree the right approach for you.
 
4. My employer is asking me to take a period of unpaid leave/furlough, what happens to my apprenticeship during that time?
 
Where you are no longer able to work, but have not been made redundant, you can continue with your apprenticeship and resume practical work when you return to work. Please get in touch with your assessor who will ensure that remote learning is in place. Once you are back at work, you can resume the practical elements of your apprenticeship.
 
You should refer any queries around terms and conditions, including wages, to your employer in the first instance. We would also ask employers to consider using the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme before making apprentices redundant.
 
The ACAS website may also be a good source of information.
 
5. What happens to the apprentice during a period of unpaid leave in terms of monies. Do they have access to Universal Credit?
 
Universal Credit may be available for both workers and the unemployed alike, as long as they meet the other conditions of entitlement (including that the applicant and their partner have savings of under £16,000 between them). Apprentices may be entitled to access Universal Credit during a period of unpaid leave. They may also have access to Universal Credit even if they were working and being paid. Being laid off or on a lesser number of hours could increase the rate of Universal Credit entitlement.
 
Apprentices on unpaid leave may also be eligible for other benefits.
 
Through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis. HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month.
 
6. How do I record progress towards my apprenticeship while I am subject to different working conditions like working from home?
 
You will already be recording your off-the-job training activity using an approach agreed with your assessor. Please continue to use this in the coming weeks. If your work circumstances change because of COVID-19, so that the minimum 20% off the job cannot be met in the workplace, you will need to liaise with your employer and assessor to agree other relevant distance learning that can be completed during normal working hours, that compliments your apprenticeship programme.
 
7. My employer is laying me off/making me redundant. What happens to my apprenticeship?
 
Please speak to your assessor who will report the situation to our Apprenticeships Manager. If you are made redundant, your apprenticeship training will still be able to continue. Your assessor will still be able to offer training, based on your circumstances, in the short term. The college will support you in finding a new employer as quickly as possible and within 12 weeks. All attempts will be made by the college to work with your current employer to look at all options to avoid any redundancy situation.
 
We would urge all employers to consider using the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis. HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month.
 
8. If I can’t work/attend training, will I still be paid?
 
An apprenticeship is a job with training, so even when you are not able to do your training, you are still employed. You will be paid in line with the details in your employment contract.
 
Where you are unable to work, we suggest speaking to your employer about their polices on pay. The government is providing a range of support to employers to help them retain and pay the wages of employees (including apprentices) during the coming months.
 
9. Due to business continuity measures all staff are required to be available at their usual place of work. How can apprentices continue their learning?
 
If apprentices are unable to attend their scheduled learning events, there are several options available to you:
• Bath College will be providing apprentices with high quality digital or distance learning opportunities to continue with their training. This will continue to go towards their off the job hours and improve their overall skills. The apprentice will need to be provided with time to complete this work during their normal working week.
• they could be offered additional on-site mentor support and shadowing
• they could take a short pause in their learning of less than four weeks while still completing by their planned end-date
Please speak with your assessor to plan the best approach for your circumstances.
 
10. I am having to move staff into different and/or business critical roles that aren’t related to their apprenticeship. What happens to their apprenticeship?

 
It is our goal that apprentices can promptly resume their apprenticeship and continue to successful completion of end-point assessment. In these cases, the apprentice can continue to works towards their apprenticeship programme and distance learning will be provided to continue to deliver all knowledge and theory elements of the current programme. This will need to be monitored closely by their assessor so please keep in contact with them during this time.
 
If that move becomes permanent, you should look to see which alternative apprenticeship your apprentice can transfer to.
 
Please speak with your assessor if this situation is affecting you.
 
11. What do I do if I think an apprentice is not well enough to work (especially in a health setting)?
 
Employers should follow the government’s guidance for employers and businesses on coronavirus (COVID-19).
 
12. I am a non-levy paying employer recruiting for/having apprentices due to start. Can I still go ahead?
 
Yes. Please take guidance from the college as you would for an apprenticeship start in any other circumstances. We will need to enrol your apprentices remotely via skype/phone but a full information, advice and guidance session will still take place ensuring a successful and well planned start for your apprentices.
 
13. What happens to my funding reservation as a non-levy employer, if my apprentice can’t start?
 
Reservations will expire if they are not turned into a commitment within 3 months of the apprenticeship start date, detailed in the reservation. Where a commitment is needed, and a previous reservation has expired, a new reservation must first be made.
 
14. Should employers use the ‘Stop’ or ‘Pause’ apprentice facility in the apprenticeship service?
 
In circumstances related to COVID-19, employers should use the ‘Pause’ function in the service once they have consulted and agreed this with the college. Employers must only use the ‘Stop’ function when they are certain that training will not resume at any point. Using ‘Pause’ will stop payments temporarily and allow the employer and apprentice to resume the apprenticeship at a later date. We are reviewing options to simplify the process of re-starting apprentices on the service, including to facilitate a transfer to a different apprenticeship or employer in due course.
 
Levy employers should contact your dedicated account manager for further details apprenticeship.
 

Changes to assessment

 
This section covers all questions related to completion of the apprenticeship.
15. I am on a fixed-term contract, which would ordinarily have given enough time to complete the training and the end-point assessment. If the training is delayed, and I have not completed my EPA before I leave employment, can I do the end-point assessment afterwards?
 
You should be employed when you are taking your end-point assessment so, where a where a programme has been delayed, and the planned end-date for your apprenticeship will be hindered, please speak to your employer and assessor to arrange how best to facilitate the EPA.
 
16. What will happen if I am not well enough to take my end-point assessment?
 
If you are unwell, or in a period of self-isolation, and unable to attend your end-point assessment, please contact your assessor as soon as you are able, to allow them maximum time to re-schedule your assessment.
 
17. Gateways are being delayed and we cannot complete the end-point assessment in the required time frame. Can we extend the EPA timeframe due to the current disruption?
 
Apprentices who are deemed ready for assessment, and cannot be assessed due to assessor illness, or Covid-19 related measures, are allowed to take a break before taking their EPA, and for the EPA to be rescheduled.
 
If the EPA timeframe needs to be extended beyond what is allowed in the assessment plan (where specified), EPAOs are responsible for agreeing extensions to EPA timeframes during the current disruption. EPAOs should work closely with EQAPs to ensure quality of EPA is maintained.
 
18. Where the end-point assessment plan states that assessment must be conducted face-to-face, but cannot be under the current circumstances, can we conduct these remotely?
 
Where an assessment method requires face to face engagement, this can be conducted remotely, subject to the following conditions:
 
• arrangements are cleared in advance by the EQA provider
• the apprentice’s identity is verified
• remote tests are supervised by an appropriately trained invigilator or assessor:
o who has the necessary qualifications, training or experience
o who has not been involved in the training, preparation or line management of the apprentice
• appropriate technology and systems are in place
• the impact that remote assessment may have on apprentices is to be taken into consideration, to ensure a fair and reliable assessment of occupational competence
• where alternatives are not appropriate, a pause and rescheduling might be the only action. An extension of 12 weeks is allowable for those Endpoint Assessment Plans (EPA) where a time limit is specified from gateway to EPA. It is to be logged on and shared with EQAPs on a timely basis.
 
19. How will invigilation of assessments be conducted remotely?
 
Remote tests should be supervised by an appropriately trained invigilator, or assessor who has the necessary qualifications, training or experience, and who has not been involved in the training, preparation or line management of the apprentice.
 
Tests must only be carried out within a supervised and controlled environment. EPAOs must ensure all testing meets security requirements, and that the details of invigilators are recorded and available for confirmation by EQAPs.
 
20. If the current situation continues for a long period of time, would you consider awarding the apprenticeship without the end-point assessment?
 
Unlike some other exams, the Government would not consider this to be appropriate at the current time.
 
21. Can the timeframe for completion be extended if the completion of EQA activity cannot take place?
 
EQA activity should be delivered remotely and continue within current guidelines. EQAPs should reschedule audits where this is appropriate.
 
22. We can deliver part of the end-point assessment, but some sections require direct observation. How do we deal with these components?
 
These elements of the EPA will need to be rescheduled if they cannot be undertaken remotely. If the EPA timeframe needs to be extended beyond what is allowed in the assessment plan, the EPAO should seek agreement from the EQAP. Where a specified assessment method for a specific standard might be adjusted, without threatening safety, and in a manner in which it meets the original intent, EPAOs should discuss this option with their EQAP, who may refer it to the Institute for authority.
 
The substitution of assessment methods is not considered appropriate at this time.
 
With the prior authority of their EQAP, assessments may be conducted in an appropriate simulated environment, such as a training facility.
 

Additional Information

 
There may be instances relating to some of the circumstances above where a break in learning may need to be considered. If you believe this to be the case, please discuss this with your assessor. This query will be passed on to the Apprenticeship Manager at Bath College for further investigation.
 
Other Useful Links
COVID-19: Guidance for employees, employers and businesses can be found using the link below
www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19
 
Detailed advice from ACAS for employers and employees related to COVID-19 is available here:
www.acas.org.uk/coronavirus
 

Apprenticeships, Events, Futures, News

Bath College Apprenticeships and Jobs Fair offering opportunities to young people

 
Over 1000 young people will get the opportunity to meet potential apprenticeship providers and employers at Bath College’s annual Apprenticeships and Jobs Fair.

 

The event is taking place at the Assembly Rooms on 27th March between 12pm and 5pm, giving local businesses the chance to showcase their vacancies to local people.
 
This year’s lead sponsors are Bath Building Society, B&NES, Creative Bath and Curo, all who will be found in the Octagon offering apprenticeship opportunities.
 
Many attendees of the 2018 event went onto secure positions at local companies after attending and making the most of networking opportunities.
 
Nick, from a Bath based company, took on an apprentice following last year’s Apprenticeships and Jobs Fair. He said: “Pivoting our recruitment strategy to Apprenticeships has been a revolutionary shift for our company.
 
“There is quite simply no way that we would have grown to the stage that we are without the support of the National Apprenticeship Service, and our Apprenticeship provider.
 
“I could not recommend apprenticeships highly enough as a strategy for recruitment, training and growth.”
 
His apprentice, Oliver, commented: “Having an apprenticeship has allowed me to not only work within my field of interest, but to earn money and develop my professional skills with a well reputed company.
 
“I would highly recommend considering an apprenticeship to anyone looking for post GCSE or A level prospects.”
 
Apprenticeships offer a way to progress quickly in your chosen field, as Ryan Legge, Account Executive at Hayes Parsons found.
 
Ryan completed his A Levels and decided on an apprenticeship rather than going to university: “I was keen to carry on my education but in a working environment, learning on-the-job and being paid, leaving the classroom behind.
 
“The Hayes Parsons Insurance Brokers apprenticeship scheme immediately stood out to me. Not only could I work in an evolving industry with an incredible amount of opportunity, but Hayes Parsons passionately support apprentices in their industry training. Fast-forward almost 6 years; I am now a Chartered Insurance Broker (the highest recognition available, equivalent to a degree) and work within our sales team as an Account Executive.”
 
Ben King, a Bath College student and apprentice at Bath Building Society said: “For me, an apprenticeship is better than going into a job from uni as I’m building my skillset now while I’m at College.
 
“I’m in a business environment, answering phones, working in an office, learning the skills on the job.”
 
Katherine Banks at Bath Building Society explained the importance of apprentices: “We really like to help people to grow. As they’re younger, we can develop their skills and mould them into what’s required.”
 
To find out about apprenticeship opportunities in the local area and beyond, come along to The Apprenticeships and Jobs Fair on 27th March, no registration required.
 

News

Students get top results in Refrigeration and Stonemasonry at WorldSkills UK live competition

 

Bath College had four students competing in WorldSkills UK live last week, which held the UK National Finals of more than 70 WorldSkills UK Competitions, giving the most talented apprentices and students the chance to be named as the UK’s best in their chosen skill.
 
The competitions challenge and assess an individual’s applied knowledge, technical ability and employability skills against a set of performance criteria, with finalists competing for gold, silver and bronze medals and the opportunity to be selected to join Squad UK to train for future international competitions.
 
Two Refrigeration students, Chandler Davison and Kevin Ballantine, made the top six for SkillFRIDGE as well as two Stonemasonry students, Josh Underwood and Hartaj Hunjan,  who made the top eight for Stonemasonry in SkillBuild.
 
Chandler, SkillFRIDGE finalist

Bath College was the only training provider in the 2018 SkillFRIDGE competition to see two of its students make the top six, with Chandler (pictured left) winning Silver in the competition.
 
In the SkillBuild completion, Hartaj received Highly Commended and Josh received Silver for their Stonemasonry work.
 
Chandler, who topped the national rankings and was the recipient of the SkillFRIDGE National Winner accolade, is employed by Thermocold Ltd – a family-run business working in and around the South West region – and is set to complete his four year apprenticeship course in September.
 
Kevin,, SkillFRIDGE finalist
Kevin (pictured right) spent fifteen years in other trades before pursuing a career in RACHP (refrigeration, air-conditioning and heat pump systems), after his elder brother asked him to partner with him and start their own company; TKB Air Conditioning.
 
Simon Robinson, Refrigeration & Electrical Learning Coordinator said: “I am over the moon with the result, the lads have equally put a lot of their personal and work time in to this competition, so support from the employers must be equally applauded.
 
“Both lads have inspired the Refrigeration classes and staff with their efforts to do well and use their initiative to overcome weaknesses prior to entering the finals. The competition is always fierce as this is as much as massive title for the apprentice as an accolade for the college or training establishments.
 
“To have the pair in the finals is a first for Bath College and to come away with a silver medal is well deserved.”
 

Josh and Hartaj, Skillbuild finalists

Josh and Hartaj, Skillbuild Stonemasonry finalists


 
Hartaj has just finished the Stonemasonry course at Bath College and is an apprentice at A F Jones Stonemasons Ltd.
 
Josh is also doing an apprenticeship at a Stonemasonry business, his is with Phidias Neo Classical, based in Bristol. After his apprenticeship finishes he would also like to start a business.
 
Paul Maggs, Stonemasonry lecturer said: “The lads worked extremely hard and I am very proud of their achievements at the world skills competition.”
 
If you would like more information on apprenticeships at Bath College, click here.
 

Steph Smith, Best Overall Engineering Student

News

Engineering Department at Bath College celebrates Student Talent

 

Bath College Engineering Department held their annual End of Year Presentation Evening in celebration of the hard work and effort expended by the students over the course of the year.
 
Employers, family and friends were invited and many were impressed to see not just the quantity of work produced, but the high standards set and achieved.
 
The event prizes were sponsored by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET). Esther Dunstan-Sewell (a former apprentice and IET member) presented the awards and Maurice Poole from the IET gave a short motivational speech.
  
Mechanical Engineering Awards
Best Welding Project – Anton Parker (Bristol Port)
Best Electrical Project – Matt Durbin (Johnston Controls)
Best CAD Project – Karl Jefferies (Rotork)
Best Turning Project – Jacob Darvile (Rotork)
Best Milling Project – Ben Harvey (Bristol Port)
Best Hand Fitting Project – Ben Mogg (Bristol Port)
Best Folder/Written Work – Joe Paget (Bristol Port)
Best Improved Project – Rhys Jennings (Full time student)
Best Project – Matt Durbin (Johnston Controls)
 
Engineering Awards
Best Level 1 student – Nathanael Wadsworth,
Best Level 2 student – Will Oborne
Best City Campus Student – Matt Durbin
Best Overall Student – Steph Smith
 
The Mechanical Engineering Awards were given out to apprentices for their projects.
 
Simon Preston, Mechanical Engineering Lecturer said: “I am very proud of how both the full time students and apprentices have done this year, moving to a new qualification with a huge amount of work to cover within the 9 months; all have passed with the quality exceeding previous years.
 
“The learners that got awards deserved them as the standard was very high throughout the whole year.”
 
Matt Durbin winning his awardMatt Durbin (pictured left) won the Best Project award for which he was given £60 from the IET.
 

The Engineering Awards saw four winners collect their prize for the best student in each category.
 
Stephanie Smith (pictured below) won the Best Overall student award. She is starting an apprenticeship with British Aerospace (BAE) in September for which there were 3000 applicants and only 42 jobs.
 
She commented: “I am looking forward to learning more about engineering in a world class company, with the support that brings.
 
“The apprenticeship is a great way to start my career and I’m looking forward to the development I can get from it.”
 
Matt Driver, Engineering Lecturer said “We’re really proud of Steph and her achievement in getting such a prestigious apprenticeship. She has performed really well across the whole year and has set high standards for other students to emulate.
 
“We wish her continued success in the coming years and look forward to her coming back and letting us know how her career is progressing.”
 
Matt continued: “The awards evening was the culmination of a very successful year at Bath College with over 90% successful in their qualification.
 
“Work Experience was a particular success this year generating lots of interest from employers, many of whom went on to offer jobs and apprentices directly to the students with no further interviewing, such is the strength and impact of Bath College.
 
“We look forward to seeing our students returning on various local Apprenticeships in the near future.”
 
For more information about Bath College Engineering courses, click here.
 

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