We recognise that these are concerning times and that many businesses are worried about the impact that the unprecedented disruption of COVID-19 is causing. 

Our absolute priority is supporting individuals, employers, partners and colleagues through the effects of the pandemic. 

Alongside Scotland’s other enterprise and skills agencies, local authorities and Scottish and UK Governments, SDS is focused on supporting businesses by providing access to information and reassurance.

Our services remain open and accessible, however the nature of our delivery is changing in response to public health advice.   

Advice and support for employers covering a broad range of topics affecting business continuity is available at findbusinesssupport.gov.scot.

Labour Market Insight

SDS is committed to maintaining its role of providing robust evidence on the labour market in order to help inform policy direction and investment in response to the significant economic and labour market impact COVID-19 has caused.

As part of that commitment, SDS has developed the COVID-19 Labour Market Insights, providing succinct and up-to-date evidence on the impact on Scotland’s economy, business and people.

Visit the Labour Market Insight page for further information.

Please refer to the FAQs below for further help and advice. 

Where can I access recruitment support? (Updated 29/06/20)

Employers with immediate vacancies can visit ourskillsforce.co.uk/jobhub to find out more and upload jobs. 

If you would like to speak to someone, please call the SDS Employer Helpline on 0800 783 6000  

It is important to ensure that you are recruitment is inclusive and allows you to tap into the broadest possible pool of talent.  For hints and tips on how to develop inclusive job adverts, where to promote them and how to ensure your shortlisting process if fair, please see our Inclusive Recruitment Guides

You might have recently adapted your recruitment process to fit with the Government’s lockdown guidance, for example using video conferencing for interviews.  Be aware that not everyone will be familiar with or have access to different technology.  You should be clear with candidates what will be involved in the recruitment and interview process, and offer alternatives where they are unable to access the relevant technology.  For example, conducting an interview by phone rather than video conferencing.

Where can I access funding to support my business through the impacts of COVID-19? (Updated 15/06/20)

Details on the range of advice and support for employers covering funding and  broad range of topics is available at findbusinesssupport.gov.scot

The Scottish Government has also established a helpline for employers.  

The helpline number is 0300 303 0660 and is available Monday to Friday from 8:30am to 5:30pm.  

Where can I access guidance on how to manage my business and support my staff?

Advice and support for employers covering a broad range of topics affecting business continuity is available at findbusinesssupport.gov.scot

Scottish Enterprise has collated further sources of advice and support for business. 

For advice on how to support your employee's physical and mental well-being during this time, please see supporting your staff during Covid-19.

How can I support staff faced with redundancy? 

The Scottish Government’s Partnership for Continuing Employment (PACE) is a well-established service to support individuals and employers dealing with redundancy.   

To find out more visit redundancyscotland.co.uk.  

To speak to our PACE team please call us on 0800 917 8000.

I currently offer Foundation Apprenticeship placements – what should I do? (Updated 15/06/20)

Employers are advised to keep in regular contact with your learning provider e.g. college or training facility for advice on delivery and support.

SDS have contracted with learning providers to offer up to 5,000 Foundation Apprenticeships in the 2020 academic year. As a business offering Foundation Apprenticeships, your contribution is crucial in supporting pathways into critical occupations for the Scottish economy. Once pupils are back at school in August, learning providers will be in touch with Employers to finalise FA Placements. Where possible, keep in regular contact with your training provider allowing for longer than normal response times. The latest guidance for Training Providers is available on our dedicated training provider webpage.

For those employers that offered a placement in 2019/20, SDS and SQA released a joint statement on 12/6/2020 explaining how these have been completed.

If you would like to speak to someone, please call the SDS Employer Helpline on 0800 783 6000.

I have a question related to Graduate Apprentices in my business (Updated 15/06/20)

Employers are advised to keep in regular contact with your learning provider e.g. college, university or training facility for advice on delivery and support.

If you have an employee currently carrying out a Graduate Apprenticeship, we encourage them to keep in regular contact with their University for advice on delivery and support, allowing a longer than usual response time. There are several online classes, training and modules being offered to learners to enable continued study.

The 2020 intake for Graduate Apprenticeships is still planned for September, reliant on ongoing guidance from Scottish Government. A list of the Graduate Apprenticeship frameworks, training providers and contacts is available on Apprenticeships.Scot.

Should you wish to advertise your Graduate Apprenticeship vacancy, you can do so free of charge by visiting Apprenticeships.Scot.

If you would like to speak to someone, please call the SDS Employer Helpline on 0800 783 6000.

I have a question related to Modern Apprentices in my business (Added 17/06/20)

Where appropriate, Training Providers will still be working with apprentices to progress with their qualification. Training Providers will find themselves in different situations during this time so please do not worry if your staff’s Training Provider has been furloughed. This will not affect the learner’s place on the programme as their apprenticeship will be put on hold until the time that work can resume.

Just like any other member of staff, where appropriate, Modern Apprentices can be furloughed. We ask that you let their Training Provider know if this is the case, and keep in contact with them where possible to discuss any changes to their situation.

Modern Apprentices can continue online training while furloughed and, from 8th June, employees can start a Modern Apprenticeship while they are on furlough in agreement with their employer and Training Provider.

The latest guidance for Training Providers is available on our dedicated Training Provider webpage.

Can I still recruit apprentices and advertise the vacancies on apprenticeships.scot? (Updated 29/06/20)

Yes, you can and it’s free to do so on https://www.apprenticeships.scot/.  

It is important to ensure that you are recruitment is inclusive and allows you to tap into the broadest possible pool of talent.  For hints and tips on how to develop inclusive job adverts, where to promote them and how to ensure your shortlisting process if fair, please see our Inclusive Recruitment Guides

The recruitment process should be facilitated remotely, using video or phone call, since a face-to-face meeting isn’t possible. You’ll have to make sure you have plans in place and have the right resources to do so.  Be aware that not everyone will be familiar with or have access to different technology.  You should be clear with candidates what will be involved in the recruitment and interview process, and offer alternatives where they are unable to access the relevant technology.  For example, conducting an interview by phone rather than video conferencing.

You should also let the applicants and any new starts know that there might be a delay in the recruitment process. You should also plan how you will conduct an induction and provide them with suitable equipment to work while keeping in line with the government’s social distancing advice.

If you would like to speak to someone, please call the SDS Employer Helpline on 0800 783 6000.

 

I can recruit apprentices who have been made redundant. What support can I receive? 

If you are in a position where you are still recruiting, you may be able to access the  Adopt an Apprentice Initiative  allowing you to access £2,000 to support a modern apprentice to complete their qualification as your employee.

I need to close the workplace temporarily, should my apprentice use their holiday allowance during this time?  (Updated 15/06/20)

As an employer, you do have the right to tell any employee to use their annual leave if they need to. For example, if you need to close your business for a week then you can tell everyone to use their holidays. 

The latest government advice can be found here.

What do I do if an apprentice shows COVID-19 symptoms in the workplace?  (Updated 15/06/20)

If an apprentice is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, they should let you know immediately. They should avoid touching anything, cough or sneeze into a tissue and use a separate bathroom from others if possible.   

The latest advice from Government can be found here.

If someone with COVID-19 comes to work, you don’t have to close if you are an essential business. But you should follow the government’s cleaning advice.

 

An apprentice doesn’t feel comfortable working during the COVID-19 pandemic. What happens now?

We understand that some people might not feel like they want to go to working during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

You should listen to any staff concerns and take the necessary steps to protect and support them. If an apprentice doesn’t want to work, you should get in touch with their learning provider to get more information and to come to an agreement. 

The government advise that employees can travel to work if it’s not possible to work from home. If a workplace is still open, employees might be able to take time off on holiday or unpaid leave, but it’s ultimately up to you as the employer. 

The latest Government advice can be found here.

 

 I am having to move employees into business critical roles that aren’t related to their apprenticeship. What happens to their apprenticeship?

It’s understandable that you might require employees to undertake a business-critical role at this time.  This will hopefully be a short-term requirement after which the apprentice can move back to their apprenticeship role. 

Any work the apprentice does in the business-critical role might also provide learning and evidence towards their apprenticeship. 

You should discuss this with their learning provider so they are aware of the changes to the apprentice’s role and how this might impact on their learning and evidence requirements. 

Can furloughed apprentices continue their training?

The latest guidance from HMRC confirms apprentices can be furloughed in the same way as other employees, and can continue to train whilst furloughed. However, there are conditions relating to individual apprentice's circumstances and national minimum wage.  

Where training is undertaken by furloughed workers, at the request of their employer, workers are entitled to be paid at least the NLW/NMW for this time. In most cases, the furlough payment of 80% of a worker’s wage, up to the value of £2,500, will provide sufficient monies to cover these training hours. However, where the furlough payment does not meet the appropriate minimum wage for the time spent training, employers will need to pay the additional wages. 

Additional information can be found on the UK Government website 

 

Can I access free online training to help my furloughed apprentices continue their learning? (Added 17/06/20)

SDS has introduced an Online Learning Portal in response to COVID-19, connecting people with thousands of free-to-access online learning materials. Working closely with learning providers, additional resources will be added in the coming weeks and months.

Where can I find out more about supporting my staff during the pandemic?  (Updated 29/06/2020)

There is a range of information on Our Skillsforce about supporting your staff during this time.  This includes supporting physical and mental well-being; making adjustments for disabled staff; implementing flexible working practices and supporting staff with children or caring responsibilities

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates

Visit our Coronavirus (COVID-19) support page for more information on the support and advice we can offer at this time.