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

Skills Development Scotland, on behalf of Scottish Government, has launched a Grant Scheme for Modern Apprenticeship (MA) and Employability Fund (EF) training providers.

This grant funding is available through the Temporary Framework for State Aid Measures to Support the Economy in the Current Covid-19 Outbreak. 

The funding support has been created to add value to existing UK and Scottish Government aid and is designed to assist eligible providers with the costs of providing continuity of contracted services for apprentices, learners and employers during the pandemic.   

What does it provide?

The Grant-in-Aid scheme offers eligible SDS MA and EF contract holders a monthly grant payment. The scheme initially covered the period of April to June 2020 and has now been extended to include July, August, September and October 2020.

Support is calculated each month as 1/12th of the contract value, minus payments already made and paying 40% of the balance, capped at actual costs.

Some providers have already claimed over the calculated monthly payment and will therefore not receive any relief payment for the month concerned. 

Who can apply?

Contracted MA and EF training providers who are continuing to deliver contracted and supported services for apprentices, employers and learners during the COVID-19 pandemic are eligible for the relief funding.

For the purposes of the grant eligibility this will be evidenced by at least one FIPS claim for each month and demonstration by providers – through completion of a template - that they are continuing to work with 60% or more of their apprentices or learners, and for MA providers also evidencing contact with 60% of available employers.

When is it available?

For applications covering April, May and June 2020:

The application period to support the months of April, May and June 2020 has now closed. Payments will commence following a review and approval of the application.

The control sheet for June can be accessed on the provider area of apprenticeships.scot.

For applications covering July and August 2020:

The application period to support the months of July and August 2020 has now closed. Payments will commence following a review and approval of the application. 

The control sheet for August can be accessed on the provider area of apprenticeships.scot. 

For applications covering September and October 2020: 

Applications for support covering the months of September 2020 can be made from 1 September until noon on 29 October 2020. 

Eligibility and criteria for applications will be the same as the relief that covers the months of July and August 2020. 

An updated Instruction document, Application Form, Terms and Conditions and Control Sheets for September and October are available on the provider area of apprenticeships.scot. 

Applications to claim for these two months only will be open until noon on 29 October, with a 60 day reconciliation period. The Control Sheet should be returned 15 days after the end of the Active Financial Period. 

 

MA Delivery and Interim Measures 

Normal MA Delivery 

From 1st April 2020, please review the MA Specification 20/21 for information and note that document requirements have changed for the contracting year 20/21:  

  • For the Training Agreement, Equalities Monitoring Form, Eligibility Declaration for Enhanced Funding – Modern Apprentices aged 20-29 (Disability and/or Care Experienced), you must use the new forms found here.   
  • For other documents (Apprentice Progress Reviews, Summary of Achievement Record), you have a grace period until 30th June 2020 to transfer to either the new SDS exemplars, or your own documents which must be approved by your Skills Investment Adviser, prior to use. This means that until 30th June 2020, you can use the documents you have used in 19/20 for reviews and payments (Quarterly Progress Reviews, Progress Reviews, SOAR). For more information, please refer to the MA Specification 20/21.  

Interim Measures due to COVID-19 

SDS will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and advise if the grace period will be extended.   

In addition to the information above, SDS has extended its interim measures to assist in providing supporting documentation for both Modern Apprenticeship starts and those in-training, where Providers activity has been disrupted due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  

Providers must continue to input all information to FIPS, keep all documentation required, and ensure these are available to upload to FIPS on request.  Please ensure you review the updated MA Specification 20/21 for the documentation you need to complete as there have been changes for 20/21. 

Please note: while furloughed employees can continue with their Modern Apprenticeship, they are now eligible to start a new Modern Apprenticeship. 

Guidance on restarting Modern Apprenticeships with Quarterly Payment Plans has been updated in the QPR section.

The interim measures listed above will be in place from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021 and we will continue to review the situation and keep you updated on any new guidelines. If you have specific issues that are not addressed by the guidance here and in the FAQs, please contact your Skills Investment Adviser. 

Face-to-face meetings and signatures 

If Providers are unable to conduct meetings with Apprentices and/or Employers face-to face due to the Coronavirus pandemic, SDS will relax the MA Specification and Conditions to allow these meetings via video conferencing/Skype/Facetime or telephone, without seeking prior approval. Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the following requirements for signatures will apply:    

For signatures, Providers should, where their technology allows, follow the guidance in the statement below:    

Due to COVID-19 you can use electronic signatures. 

Any signature must be inputted by the person it represents and used where there is knowledge of and an intent to sign a specific document. The signature should be representative of their handwritten signature.  

Copies (including scanned copies) of the original document or form with the required signatures are acceptable for payment assurance purposes.    

For the avoidance of doubt, SDS will not accept a typed signature in any font. 

If Providers are unable to gain signatures (including electronic signatures) due to COVID-19, they should then follow the guidance below:   

If the signature requirements in the Specification or an electronic signature as outlined above are not achievable, then in place of a signature SDS will accept an email to the Provider confirming the signatory (Apprentice and/or Employer and/or Provider) has read, understood and contributed as appropriate to the named document. The email must be from a unique and identifiable email address. This email must be retained with the named document as evidence.   

The onus is on the Provider to ensure that the content of the email reflects the requirements associated with each document and captures the information detailed in the next section: E-mail Confirmation.  

If any of the above signature methods are used and you do not have any ESF tagged recipients, SDS will not expect you to gain any wet signatures after the COVID-19 period ends.

E-mail confirmation statements for MA Documentation. 

As outlined in the Meetings & Signatures section, where Providers are unable to get the required signatures, they can use e-mail correspondence. In this case, Providers are required to use the following statements for each document: 

Training Agreement 20/21  
Required signatures: ApprenticeEmployer and Provider signature   
 
Description: This email contains the Training Agreement for the Apprenticeship. If you respond positively to this email you confirm that you will undertake the Apprenticeship with the support of your Provider and that you have read and understood the agreement.  

Equalities Monitoring Form 20/21 
Required signatures: Apprenticesignature  
 
Description: This email contains the Equalities Monitoring Form. If you respond positively to this email you confirm that you have read and completed this and understand that for equality monitoring purposes, the Provider will input the information to an SDS system and then destroy the hard copy of the form.    Your data will be held securely and confidentially, and will only be used for reporting purposes, further information can be found in the SDS Privacy Notice.    

Eligibility Declaration for Enhanced Funding – Modern Apprentices aged 20-29 (Disability and/or Care Experienced) 20/21  
Required signatures: Apprentice and Provider signature   
 
Description: This email contains the Eligibility Declaration for Enhanced Funding – Modern Apprentices aged 20-29 (Disability and/or Care Experienced). By replying positively to this email, you confirm that you have completed this form to self-disclose that you are Disabled and/or Care Experienced and that you require the support described by your Provider to help you achieve and sustain your Apprenticeship.   

Apprentice Progress Review documentation (including those for QPR - either SDS 20/21 Exemplars, 19/20 review documentation  or your own documents, approved by your SIA)  
Required signatures: ApprenticeEmployer and Provider signature   
 
Description: This email contains an Apprentice Progress Review for the Apprenticeship. If you respond positively to this email, you confirm that you have reviewed the progress of the Apprenticeship with the support of your Provider and that you have read and agree with the progress review.  

Summary of Achievement Record documentation (either SDS 20/21 Exemplar, 19/20 SOAR or your own document, approved by your SIA)  
Required signatures: Apprentice and Assessor signature   
 
Description: This email contains the Summary of Achievement Record (SOAR) for the Apprenticeship. If you respond positively to this email, you confirm that you have achieved the milestone and that you have read and agree with the SOAR.  

Please note:additional guidance has been issued with regards to gathering signatures for ESF evidence. Please refer to theESF webpagefor more information. 

If Providers, Apprentices or Employers are unable to undertake Quarterly Progress Reviews (QPRs – also known as Apprentice Progress Reviews for Quarterly Progress Payment Plans) in line with the Modern Apprenticeship Specification 20/21 they can suspend activity without penalty.  

The EmployerApprentice and Provider signatures are mandatory for QPRs and must be obtained prior to making a claim. Please visit the Meetings & Signatures section to see what we mean by “signature”. In any instances where Providers are unable to gain a wet or electronic signature, they can use e-mail correspondence in place of a signatureIn this case, Providers are required to use the following statements for QPR documentation: 

Apprentice Progress Review for QPR Payment Plan documentation (either SDS 20/21 Exemplars, 19/20 review documentation or your own documents, approved by your SIA)  
Required signatures: ApprenticeEmployer and Provider signature   
 
Description: This email contains an Apprentice Progress Review for the Apprenticeship. If you respond positively to this email you confirm that you have reviewed the progress of the Apprenticeship with the support of your Provider and that you have read and agree with the progress review.  
 
Due to COVID-19, the Employer signature can be obtained out with the published timescales but a claim cannot be made until all signatures (as described above – email confirmation is an acceptable ‘signature’) are gathered. Please note it is only the Employer who can sign out with the published timescales.

The MA can be suspended without penalty due to COVID-19. When the MA is restarted the Provider should undertake the next Review (i.e. the first Review that couldn’t be carried out), scheduling all subsequent Reviews 13-weekly from that date.  These subsequent reviews would require to be carried out within the 6-week window i.e. 3 weeks either side of the new quarter-end dates. Claims can then be submitted once all required evidence has been obtained. Providers are not required to obtain written approval in advance to undertake the first QPRs outwith the original payment plan dates due to COVID-19, however the reason for the suspension of the MA and the period of that suspension should be captured on the QPR.

Providers are required to update the Expected Achievement Dates and End Date on FIPS.

View FIPs support guidance document on updating expected end dates and expected claim dates. 

For example the next review here was due to take place on the 08/06/2020 however this review had been suspended due to COVID-19. The first review claim for this apprentice on restarting took place on 10/7/2020 which should be claimed against milestone 2. The provider will need to revise the expected end date and claim dates for Milestone 3 and 4 to meet the requirements of a 13 week cycle from Milestone 2 onwards.

Please note: If you have been ESF tagged, please visit the ESF section, for additional requirements. 

Sector Bodies will continue to process certification claims in the usual manner and, if everything is in order, the Apprentice's status will be changed to "Approved". At this point, the system will automatically generate an Apprenticeship Achievement Confirmation e-mail to the relevant Centre. 

This e-mail will contain all of the relevant Apprentice data and details of the Apprenticeship achieved. It will also confirm the date of achievement approval. A copy of the Apprentice achievement notification will be sent to the specific system user submitting the certification claim and also the Centre Admin User account.  

In the interim, the e-mail notification can be used to confirm Apprenticeship achievement with the individual Apprentice, their Employer and relevant Funding Bodies etc. All printed certificates will be generated and dispatched once business operations are able to return to normal. 

 

Providers will be informed by SDS if they have been tagged for ESF purposes. If they have, there is some additional guidance to follow: 

For Providers who are using the E-mail Correspondence in place of a signature 

Providers can still make claims to SDS as detailed in the Meetings & Signatures section. The difference for Providers who have been tagged by ESF and have only gathered the email correspondence in place of a signature is that when the COVID-19 period ends, these Providers would need to gain the wet or electronic signatures relating to these documents, or provide evidence that at least three attempts were made to secure a signature within one month of COVID-19 restrictions being lifted. SDS will keep Providers informed of all dates and requirements.  

For any questions relating directly to ESF, please contact mas@sds.co.uk 

 

Next Steps  

If you have any questions or issues not addressed by the guidance above, please contact your SDS Skills Investment Adviser.

We continue to liaise with the Scottish Training Federation and the Scottish Government on measures to support contract holders through this uncertain period.  We urge you to follow the Scottish Government’s latest information and advice on Coronavirus at gov.scot/coronavirus. Public health advice can be found at: Coronavirus (COVID-19) on NHS Inform.