Last updated: September 2020
How is the College now operating during Covid-19?
The health and safety of our students and staff is of paramount importance to us. As part of our planning and commitment to wellbeing, we have adopted and are following the Government’s ‘Staying Covid-19 Secure in 2020’ statement.
To reduce the number of people on our campuses, students will be taught using blended learning. This is a mixture of online learning using platforms such as Microsoft Teams and College attendance for blocks of specific times.
The College Estates team completed Risk Assessments of all the College’s premises and activities and adapted the way that we do things to make sure that everyone is kept as safe as possible. We have considered every activity, from arriving at the entrance of each campus in the morning to leaving at the end of the day. Designated coloured areas have been created in each building on all three campuses to enable students to remain in their bubbles and maintain social distancing. New signage, hand sanitising stations, information points and protective face-to-face screens have been installed where required.
All classrooms will have appropriate cleaning materials available so that desks and equipment can be disinfected in between uses. All our buildings are cleaned each day by the College’s cleaning contractor, and additional cleans of key touch areas will also be made throughout the day.
Social distance measures have been set for classroom, social/learning spaces and corridor use. We have also reviewed the use of our catering outlets and the timing of breaks, so that times are staggered. We will also be allowing students to eat food in designated classrooms to ensure plenty of space is available. Additionally, we have procedures in place to manage the isolation of and care after anyone who feels unwell whilst at College. All our actions will be regularly reviewed on an ongoing basis to ensure we continue to maintain the best possible environment for our students and staff.
Our Business Development team are here to support our employers, doing whatever is best for the needs of your business. Whether it’s online or in your covid-secure workplace, we’ll meet with you to discuss your business needs and help advise you on our operating procedures.
What should I do if one of our apprentices is diagnosed with Covid-19 or asked to self-isolate?
You should follow Public Health England guidelines and those of your own organisation. In addition to this please inform the College through the normal route to report the absence.
Who should I inform about our own organisation’s arrangements in light of Covid-19?
Please contact the College through your account manager or through normal communications channels (e.g. your assessor) who will update the College’s central record.
If my apprentice needs to self-isolate, what will happen to their Apprenticeship?
Apprenticeships have been designed to be responsive to changes in apprentices’ circumstances, for example during a period of illness. If your apprentice needs to self-isolate. If your apprentice takes a short pause of less than 4 weeks, this will not affect the planned end date of the Apprenticeship. Please talk to your contact at the College about the best way forward should this situation arise.
When an apprentice is working from home, can we count anything they do as off-the-job training?
Off-the-job training is a statutory requirement for an English apprenticeship. It is training which is received by the apprentice during the apprentice’s normal working hours, for the purpose of achieving the knowledge, skills and behaviours of the approved apprenticeship referenced in the apprenticeship agreement.
All off-the-job training must be directly relevant to the apprenticeship, but this can now be delivered more flexibly, including remote working.
If my apprentice continues to do off-the-job training, can this be more than one day a week?
Yes. The normal off-the-job training rules will apply, so training can be done as a block where this is agreed between the provider and the employer. The 20% minimum off-the-job training applies over the length of the apprenticeship and will still need to be satisfied and the college team can work with you and the apprentice to ensure this is covered by the end of the apprenticeship.
Can training continue for furloughed apprentices?
Yes, where apprentices are furloughed, they can continue to train for their apprenticeships, as long as it does not provide services to or generate revenue for their employer. If the furlough payment takes your apprentices below the appropriate National Minimum Wage then you will need to top this up for the agreed training hours. In most cases this will be a very small amount per week. However, as this is an employment related issue, we would advise you to seek advice from your HR advisor and the Government website.
Can an existing member of staff start an apprenticeship whilst they are furloughed?
Yes, a furloughed member of staff can start an apprenticeship programme that has a minimum duration of 12 months.
My apprentice is at risk of redundancy – what should I do?
With furlough coming to an end, the College would urge employers to look at all options before they resort to making an apprentice redundant and to have a conversation with our Business Development team who can help advise on the different options available. The government have introduced the Job Retention Bonus, a one-off payment of £1,000 to UK employers for every furloughed employee who remains continuously employed through to the end of January 2021.
I’m concerned about my apprentice’s End Point Assessment (EPA)
For any concerns you may have about your apprentice reaching EPA, please speak to the team at the College who will help advise you on the different options available to you. EPA organisations are looking at different ways of assessing apprentices and there are flexibilities that the team can discuss with you. The apprentice needs be employed or furloughed when they are taking the end-point assessment.
What do I do if my apprentice’s hours are reduced?
If your apprentice’s hours are reduced to fewer than 30 hours a week you must speak to the team at the College as you will be required to extend the expected duration of the apprenticeship on a pro rata basis to take account of the reduction in hours.
How do I bring my apprentice safely back to work?
In light of the requirement outlined by the Government, employers will be expected to undertake Covid-19 risk assessments that demonstrate review of the workplace which includes social distancing measures, hygiene factors and where relevant, PPE.
Will employers be able to claim a Cash “bonuses” for new hires that start an apprenticeship and are these incentives on top of or instead of the existing 16-18 incentive?
Yes. Employers can claim via the online Apprenticeship Service from 1 September 2020; £2,000 for a 16 to 24-year-old and £1,500 for a 25-year-old. These are in addition to the existing 16-18 year old incentives where you could also receive an extra £1000 on top of the new £2000 incentive (eligibility dependent).
For non-levy payers, employers will need to set up their Apprentices Service account to do this. The Business Development team are on hand to support this and are running ongoing #WorkingTogether webinars with employers to discuss more about accessing the new incentives. You can sign-up for these here https://www.btc.ac.uk/employers/workingtogether-webinars/