Graduate Apprenticeship Training Providers can view COVID-19 FAQs below, offering advice, support and relevant contact information.

These FAQs were last updated on 06/05/2020.

 

What is SDS doing in response to the Coronavirus pandemic?

In response to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, Skills Development Scotland (SDS) continues to consider and agree measures to reduce disruption to contract holders, employers and apprentices in the delivery of Foundation, Modern and Graduate Apprenticeships, and the Employability and National Third Sector Funds.  

We will continue to keep providers updated on changes or additional guidance and measures as this information becomes available.

I have apprentices who are feeling stressed or anxious, how can I support them?

There is a range of information and resources on supporting mental well-being on the My World of Work website at Well-being Support.

Learners may also be experiencing a wide range of personal issues during this time such as bereavement, addiction or domestic abuse.  The BBC Action Line provides information on a wide range of topics so it may be beneficial to promote this to your learners to allow them to access information and support if they need it.

How will social distancing recommendations affect the ESF evidence requirements for Graduate Apprenticeships?

DS understands and shares your concerns.   

We are urgently seeking clarification from the Managing Authority about what actions we can take to mitigate the effects of the outbreak in respect of the evidence requirements.   

We are continuing to operate as normally as possible and are able to continue processing claims where evidence is verified. As soon as we receive clarification, we will update all Learning Providers with the requirements and steps they need to take.  

Though this is a rapidly evolving and unpredictable situation, we are committed to working flexibly with Learning Providers during this difficult period. 

Should learning providers continue to deliver training at this time?

We encourage everyone – providers, employers and individuals – to follow Government guidelines on Coronavirus.  
 
The Scottish Government’s latest information and advice is available online at: gov.scot/coronavirus. Public health advice can be found at: Coronavirus (COVID-19) on NHS Inform 
 
Providers should also consider how they might adapt their delivery and assessment practice wherever circumstances will allow and in accordance with Awarding Body/assessment strategy guidance.

Should providers continue to enter data/upload information and evidence to FIPS at this time?

Yes, providers must continue to input all MA start information to FIPS, keep all documentation required, and ensure these are available to upload to FIPS on request.   
 
It is especially important to register any apprentices who have been made redundant, as this information is passed to the PACE team who will then contact the individual with advisory support.  
 
This will also enable SDS to track labour and training market conditions and inform Scottish Government and other stakeholders.

We are able to continue delivering training/lectures virtually, but what about employers pausing their apprenticeships?

We recognise that many employers may be currently unable to continue their support of apprenticeship delivery as before. 

SDS continues to liaise with Scottish Government colleagues regarding measures to support providers and apprentices during this uncertain time and will continue to provide you with updates.

What other measures are being put in place to support us?

SDS is in discussion with Scottish Government regarding further measures to support the provider base and sustain the apprenticeship and employability training infrastructure.

There are also wider discussions between the UK and Scottish Governments about what business support packages may become available in the near future.       

 
We appreciate the urgency of the situation, and as you will appreciate, these matters are complex. We hope to update you further as soon as we can.

Is there any guidance available for GA learners who are currently furloughed?

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. 

More information is available on the UK Government website. If you need specific information regarding the delivery of the GA, please submit your question to newapprenticships@sds.co.uk  

Is there support available through Adopt an Apprentice for GA learners who have been made redundant? (Updated 06/05/2020)

Following discussions with the Scottish Government, the eligibility criteria for Adopt an Apprentice has been expanded to include Graduate Apprenticeships. SDS is now developing the process for GA learning providers to access this support and further guidance will be published once this is available. 

 

 

 

Will there be an impact on apprenticeship funding due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic?

Where milestone evidence is available and compliant, SDS will continue to process milestone funding payments to learning providers. 

Can we defer some modules into next academic year even if this extends the overall end date of the programme?

The learning provider may be able to adapt the delivery pattern for GA programmes leading to an extension of delivery. You should apply to SDS for approval of any changes to delivery providing the details of the change and proposed timescales. Any changes to delivery of the programme must be approved by SDS. 

 

Are we able to remove the remaining assessment requirements for current first and second year GA learners to bring this into line with academic learners?

Providing that the learner will still be able to achieve the learning outcomes set out within the programme in another way then this is acceptable. 

 

 

Are there arrangements for amending current documentation (including ESF) if we are unable to meet face to face for signatures?

SDS understands and shares your concerns. We are urgently seeking clarification from the Managing Authority about the actions we can take to mitigate the effects of the outbreak in respect of evidence requirements. We are continuing to operate as normally as possible and are able to continue processing claims where evidence is verified. As soon as we receive clarification, we will update all Learning Providers with the requirements and steps they need to take. 

Though this is a rapidly evolving and unpredictable situation, we are committed to working flexibly with Learning Providers during this difficult period. 

 

Will the date set out in the terms and conditions of June still apply for notification of employer commitment?

We plan to retain this date so we can work with providers to maximise places within contracts and support those who have additional employer demand.  We understand there will be additional challenges with employer recruitment and will be considering this during the conversations with learning providers. 

 

Can we move the start date of our programme for 2020 providing it is still within the contracting year?

Any requests to change your stated delivery plan must be put in writing to SDS. Changes to delivery must not start later than the first contracted delivery year of your Challenge Fund conditions.  

Can we vire between cohorts without approval to allow us to maximise our overall number of contracted starts?

Any changes to terms and conditions will be communicated directly to GA Providers. GA Providers should not vire between cohorts without prior approval from SDS.