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

These FAQs were last updated on 01/06/2020.

Support measures

What is SDS doing to support providers? (Updated 01/05/20)

SDS continues to work closely with awarding bodies, partners and Scottish Government to quickly respond to issues arising from the pandemic to support providers, apprentices, young people and employers. 

We have written to providers to express our commitment to supporting and protecting training provision in Scotland. We will be contacting apprentices directly to provide reassurance about completing their training. 

 

Should providers continue to deliver training at this time? (Updated 01/05/20)

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. 

Where can I find information about available online learning? (Updated 01/05/20)

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.  

SDS has also been in communication with College Development Network which has offered to open its CPD support to providers for free until the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

CDN LearnOnline resources can be accessed by registering on the site.  

There are a number of courses and resources relating to learning and teaching practice, wellbeing (including mental wellbeing) and leadership. 

The Federation for Industry Sector Skills & Standards (FISSS) has also launched a COVID-19 Apprenticeship Portal.  

Initially, this will be used to complete an open-ended survey of all training providers who are registered as using the FISSS online certification systems, and of all SSC/SSB members.   

Responses will be used to identify and share innovative ways to keep training and assessment going, wherever possible, during the current lockdown period by using technology and other remote solutions.  Examples of innovation and best practice will be shared via a new free to access portal on the FISSS website. 

Evidence Guidance 

How can MA documentation be completed if a face-to-face meeting with the employer or individual is not possible? (Updated 01/05/2020)  

Please visit our dedicated SDS COVID-19 Response for MA Training Providers webpage for full details on the options that are available to you and for specific guidance on capturing signatures. 

 

Are you able to provide guidance on how Participant Quarterly Progress Reviews will be completed? (Updated 01/05/2020)

The interim measures on the SDS COVID-19 Response for Training Providers webpage have been expanded and can now be applied for the completion of Participant Quarterly Progress Reviews and for Apprentice Progress Reviews for QPR Payment Plans (new 20/21 name).  

If Providers, Apprentices or Employers are unable to undertake Quarterly Progress Revies (QPRs) in line with the Modern Apprenticeship Specification 20/21 they can suspend activity without penalty.  

The Employer, Apprentice and Provider signatures are mandatory for QPRs and must be obtained prior to making a claim.  

However, due to COVID-19 the Employer signature can be obtained outwith the published timescales. 

Are you able to provide guidance on how MA Outcome Payments should be evidenced?  (Updated 01/05/2020)

The Federation for Industry Sector Skills & Standards (FISSS) provided guidance to training providers on 26/3 regarding interim measures in place from w/c 30 March to ensure that they are still able to submit a claim for their Apprenticeship certificate on behalf of apprentices and receive confirmation that completion has been successfully approved.  

For more information, please visit our dedicated SDS COVID-19 Response for MA Training Providers webpage. 

You can also contact the Federation for Industry Sector Skills and Standards via maonline@fisss.org or by calling 0300 303 4444.  

Are you able to provide guidance on Self-Assessment / Quality Action Plan submissions?

While we would like you to complete a Self-Assessment / Quality Action Plan we understand that for some of our providers this will be extremely difficult given the current circumstances.  

We realise you will have to prioritise your business activity and you should contact the QA mailbox (SDSQualityAssurance@sds.co.uk) with any request to delay your submission.  

The Quality Assurance team are working from home and have the systems and technology in place to allow them to engage and communicate internally as a team and externally with our customers should you wish to talk to them. 

 

Are there arrangements for amending current documentation (including ESF) if we are unable to meet face to face for signatures? (Updated 01/05/20)

Updated guidance on ESF evidence requirements is published and regularly updated on the Scottish Government’s COVID-19 advice and guidance area for European Structural and Investment Funds. 

If you are unable to obtain a signature that matches the signature on the Training Agreement then ESF requires you to attempt to gain a signature once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.  

SDS will inform all Providers when restrictions are lifted.  

For ESF queries please contact mas@sds.co.uk. 

I’m unable to meet the published Modern Apprenticeship KPLs due to COVID-19, what should I do? (Updated 01/05/2020)

We appreciate that the business effects of COVID-19 will mean that the KPLs for 2020/21 contracts are unlikely to be met. We will review the situation over the forthcoming months and will issue further guidance.   

Delivery Guidance

Can apprentices continue their apprenticeship training whilst furloughed?

Yes, the latest guidance from HMRC confirms apprentices can be furloughed in the same way as other employees, and can continue to train whilst furloughed. Please ensure you visit the HMRC website to view the advice and guidance relating to pay.

We are able to continue to deliver training virtually but what do we do about employers pausing their apprenticeships? (Updated 01/05/2020)

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

Further information and guidance is available on the dedicated COVID-19 response webpage 

 

What happens in instances where apprentices are unable to participate in virtual learning (e.g. by skype)?

n line with the assessment strategy, these apprentices will be able to resume their learning once they are back in the workplace. 

Who should we notify of any changes to our service delivery due to the Coronavirus pandemic?  (Updated 01/05/2020)

Please notify your Skills Investment Adviser of any further changes to your service.

Modern Apprentice Starts

Can staff who are on furlough be a new start on a Modern Apprenticeship?

No, providers cannot sign up new MA starts from staff which are furloughed. 

 

Awarding Body and Accreditation Guidance

Where can I keep up to date with information and support from the regulatory and awarding bodies? (Updated 01/05/2020)

SQA Accreditation is the regulatory body for SVQs in Scotland. It has identified what quality principles have to be followed by Awarding Bodies that offer SVQs and other qualifications. Visit the SQA Accreditation website for more information.  

City and Guilds Awarding Body has put in place a full section relating to COVID-19 with free enhanced distance learning packages that anybody can register and request (even if you are not a C&G centre).  

SQA Awarding Body is updating its website regularly on Coronavirus.  SQA has a site U-share where there may be available signposted resources to support your delivery. 

As a business, what kind of support is available to me and my staff?

The SDS website has information about business support through the impacts of COVID-19. Information with links includes managing business, supporting staff and access to funding. 

Go to business support.

SDS COVID-19 Relief Grant 

Can I apply if my business is gaining other financial COVID-19 relief including furlough?

Yes, however, the Scottish Government policy intention is that this relief measure should add value to existing UK or Scottish Government COVID-19 relief funding.  Providers must make a self-declaration stating that the SDS relief funding is not being used for the same underlying costs covered by other Covid-19 relief measures.  

How can providers demonstrate they are working with 60%+ of individuals or employers to be eligible to apply? 

The simple to use template application form provided should enable providers to demonstrate that they are eligible.  

Can I claim for all three months? 

Those providers who meet the grant conditions for all three months will be eligible

When will I hear if an application has been successful? 

SDS will endeavour to review applications as quickly as possible. 

How do I get support for my application? 

The Guidance provides support to complete an application, a link to a presentation will also be made available and any questions should be submitted to NTPContracts@sds.co.uk

Why do I need to provide my company’s financial information? 

The funding has been made available through the Temporary Framework for State Aid Measures to Support the Economy in the Current Covid-19 Outbreak and so has to adhere to the financial information requirements needed for all State Aid funding applications.

Why is the scheme not available to all MA and EF learning and training providers? 

The Scottish Government’s policy intention is to support those providers who are continuing to deliver contracted services to learners, apprentices and employers during the pandemic. 

It has been created to add value to existing UK and Scottish Government support and those providers who are not eligible are encouraged to consider the other forms of support available. 

Why are existing payments discounted from the capped amount? 

In the case of MAs, due to the payment plan requirements allied to the framework demands, as well as the effects of the pandemic, some providers are continuing to deliver contracted services but unable to claim milestone payments. The relief offers a means of supporting providers in such a situation.   

What effect does this have on my contract? 

The payments will be deducted from your overall contract value. 

 

Further queries

I have some questions that are not currently answered by these FAQs – who can support me?

If you have any questions or issues not addressed by the guidance on this page, please contact your SIA in the first instance. Otherwise please email NTPContracts@sds.co.uk.