Covid-19 guidance for employers, training providers and centres

As we begin to emerge from the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic and look to economic recovery, the Engineering Construction Industry’s employers, learners and training providers continue to face major challenges. This remains a constantly evolving situation and the ECITB is constantly reviewing how we can support industry as the home nation Governments set out their routes out of lockdown and plans to relax of social distancing rules.

This webpage will be updated with the latest information about how the ECITB is responding to the crisis across all ECITB operations and will be updated as soon as possible. All new developments will also be communicated through our social media channels.

To find out more about the ECITB’s package of measures to support industry in 2021 and beyond here

A core initiative is the ECITB’s Train to Retain scheme which is now available on an open application basis until 24th November 2021.

When the Covid-19 crisis first hit, the ECITB took swift and decisive action to put in place an extensive £14m package of support for industry. This included moving training and assessment online, direct funding of training from approved providers and a new scholarships programme.

The ECITB’s Train to Retain scheme to support essential skills training for young engineers impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Train to Retain has already committed £7.5m to support learners’ development plans, pledging to support more than 500 apprentices, trainees and graduates to pursue their recognised industry programmes throughout the Covid-19 crisis.

Together our response ensured that training continued during the crisis, essential skills were retained and new talent pipelines were created.

We are acutely aware of the challenging circumstances faced by many employers over the past 18 months. Please speak to your account manager about how the ECITB can support training and development in your company..

Updated: 04/08/21

CCNSG Covid-19 Measures.

  • The CCNSG virtual delivery model for delivery of the 2 day national programme is still available by request although volume for this option of delivery is restricted due to the resource requirements linked to the assessment process. All future request will be considered on their individual circumstances.
  • The relaxation of the SOP’s to allow the test-only for renewal assessment process to be administered and invigilated remotely is again still an option by request.
  • The reduced delegate registration fee for all CCNSG programmes of £10.00 which was available until the 31st March 2021 has now been removed.
  • The extension of the 3 month grace period to 6 months, for renewal of cards, has now returned to 3 months. The CCNSG Committee intend to review the value of the 3 month grace period over the coming months with any changes likely to be introduced at the beginning of 2022.
  • Introduction of Computer Based Testing for 2 Day National Programme and flexibility within the paper based testing system.
  • At the recent CCNSG Committee meeting it was agreed by all of the committee members that computer based testing for the 2 Day National programme should be introduced as an optional choice to paper based testing from the 1st August 2021.
  • The ECITB have recently engaged with a number of CCNSG providers to pilot two x 40 question computer based tests invigilated at the end of each day of the National Programme.
  • The feedback from the pilot was positive from both a provider and learner perspective.
  • CCNSG Providers who wish to consider the delivery of the computer based 40 question tests for the 2 day National programme as opposed to the four x 20 question paper tests should register their interest by e-mailing programme.admin@ecitb.org.uk. The ECITB will deliver a virtual webinar session for all interested providers in late July/early August.
  • The 60 question computer based test which is currently used for the Test Only for Renewal programme can also be used as a computer based test at the end of the Renewal Programme as opposed to the two x 30 question paper tests. This option will also be covered in the virtual webinar session.
  • For both the National and Renewal programmes it is also acceptable to carry out one paper based test at the end of each day as opposed to two tests throughout the day (1 x 40 question paper test at the end of each National day or 1 x 60 question paper test at the end of the Renewal day).

If you have any questions please contact your ECITB Account Manager or e-mail programme.admin@ecitb.org.uk for further information.

Updated: 04/08/21

The Coronavirus has had a major impact on training and the ECITB has been actively supporting employers take advantage of online training options for their staff. Employers can continue to apply for ECITB grant support towards online training through the Membership Services Portal or by speaking to their account manager.

Staff of in-scope employers who are still furloughed are able to undertake training so long as certain conditions are met (see guidance here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-if-you-could-be-covered-by-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme). Where the conditions are met, the ECITB will grant support training for staff on furlough.

Updated 11/08/20

In response to the new lockdown period in January 2021, the ECITB will grant support all eLearning courses for our customers subject to funding availability until December 2021.

Updated 14/01/21

In 2020, the COVID-19 crisis had a major impact on the recruitment of apprentices, with up to a 50% reduction in new starts against the forecast at the beginning of the year. Early feedback from providers on 2021 apprentice recruitment is promising and indicates there may be a slight bounce back. 2021 saw the completion of the last ECITB ITECs and the introduction of 2 new ECITB Scholarship pathways, namely a level 2 single year craft pathway and the Energy Transfer Technician, a 2 year multi-disciplined technician pathway with an HNC and significant curriculum enhancements. It is anticipated that by the end of 2021 there will be upwards of 260 Scholars either on programme or due to start by Q2 2022.

We continue to urge all in-scope employers not to dismiss any apprentices they employ and would encourage them to first speak to ECITB about the support that may be available, including through Government.

As part of the cross-government efforts to respond to the impact of COVID-19, the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) has implemented several measures,  to make it easier for apprenticeships to continue and complete in a different way if they need to, or to break and resume an apprenticeship later when that becomes possible.

The latest ESFA guidance is available here

Specifically, the guidance includes information on:

  • how and when apprentices can safely train and undertake assessment in the workplace, education and assessment settings
  • the temporary flexibilities which apply during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

ESFA has also issued specific guidance on its relief scheme to support post-16 providers, which is available here.

Updated 03/08/21

The 2020 ITEC learners have completed their programme and are being supported by their training providers and the ECITB’s New Entrants team in their quest for employment.  To date, we have seen progressions into direct employment and apprenticeships along with some electing to embark on further study programmes. If you would like more information about ITEC availability, please contact either:

Shashi.ardeshani@ecitb.org.uk , Andrew.thomas@ecitb.org.uk or Ashley.thompson@ecitb.org.uk.

The 2020 ITEC programme was delivered by:

  • GEN2 (Workington)
  • The Engineering College (Birkenhead)
  • NETA (Stockton-on-Tees)
  • North Lynsey College (Doncaster)
  • Weston-S-Mare College
  • Yeovil College
  • Bridgewater & Taunton College

The ECITB scholarship programme is a two-year full time off the job programme in a craft or technical discipline. During their studies, learners will acquire nationally recognised engineering qualifications as well receiving other skills training relevant to their chosen discipline. To support the learners the ECITB are paying the learners a training allowance payment of £140 per week. The ECITB are working with the training providers to ensure that the programme continues be delivered in a safe and effective manner despite the ongoing challenges presented by Covid -19. To date 11 training providers have been awarded contracts to deliver the Scholarship to upwards of 240 learners who will follow Scholarships in various level 2 and 3 craft and technician disciplines. Further tendering activity is anticipated in 2021 which will see new cohorts will start across the UK in Q3/4 2021 and Q2 2022.

The providers delivering the 2020 and 2021 Scholarship cohorts are:

• Pembrokeshire College (Wales)
• Forth Valley College (Scotland)
• Cheshire College South & West
• North Lynsey College (Doncaster)
• East Coast College
• Middlesbrough College
• Richmond upon Thames College
• Bridgewater & Taunton College
• GEN2 (Workington)
• The Engineering College (Birkenhead)
• NETA (Stockton-On-Tees)

Full details on current Scholars by location, level and discipline can be found here.

Updated 03/08/21

As we emerge from lockdown across the home nations, training and testing is returning to normal operation. ECITB recommends continuing with Covid protection measures such as risk assessment and hands-face-space, and providers should monitor and comply with any changes to national or local restrictions that might apply to their location.

Updated: 04/08/21

As we emerge from lockdown across the home nations, training and testing is returning to normal operation. ECITB recommends continuing with Covid protection measures such as risk assessment and hands-face-space, and providers should monitor and comply with any changes to national or local restrictions that might apply to their location.

The latest guidance from the Scottish Government is available here.

Updated: 04/08/21

As we emerge from lockdown across the home nations, training and testing is returning to normal operation. ECITB recommends continuing with Covid protection measures such as risk assessment and hands-face-space, and providers should monitor and comply with any changes to national or local restrictions that might apply to their location.

Here is the Welsh Government’s guidance around risk assessments in terms of being an employer:

Updated: 04/08/21

Connected Competence testing remains available through our network of approved training providers throughout the UK. Please contact your preferred training provider directly to confirm opening hours and booking procedures.

Last updated: 10/01/20

Provider administration audits are ongoing both remotely and face to face where possible. Your provider account manager will be in touch to arrange the audit and request information required.

Last updated: 27/01/21

The Awarding Organisation has policies and procedures in place allowing for the remote assessment of candidates for any or all of – 1.skills observations, 2. VQ Knowledge Tests and 3.Technical Discussions.  Candidates and employers should discuss requirements with their Approved Centre. Normal test fees continue to apply.

The Awarding Organisation’s external quality assurance monitoring of Approved Centres continues to be undertaken remotely where possible or face-to-face as required, for example to observe Approved Centre assessment practices.  EQAs will have discussions with Approved Centres prior to any visit to assess risk and to ensure appropriate Covid protection measures are in place.  Approved Centres should liaise with their External Quality Assurer (EQA) in relation to these matters.

As a reminder, all Approved Centres who wish to adopt the use of digital recording for remote skills and/or knowledge assessment must seek advice and approval from their EQA prior to assessment taking place. Email qualifications@ecitb.org.uk for further information.

Technical Discussions can continue to be carried out remotely without the need for additional approval unless there is no audio or visual recording (i.e. a written transcript is provided instead by the assessor – in these case prior approval is required).

For those Approved Centres who have ECITB candidates who are also apprentices, please refer to additional guidance provided by the ESFA and the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE).

Last updated: 27/08/2021

We continue to provide all ECITB business operations and are working hard to ensure minimal difference in the level of service we provide; this includes telephone services and access to the Membership Services Portal.  We have also put in place robust grant payment arrangements to ensure payments are completed promptly.

Our staff continue to work from home and have been instructed to attend face to face meetings only where these are essential and a thorough risk assessment has been carried out. All ECITB regional forums, events and group meetings for the foreseeable future will either be held remotely, via telephone/video conferencing, or will be postponed.

Last updated: 21/01/20

Here is the latest guidance from Government:

The ECITB is in close contact with Government officials to ensure they are aware of the impact the crisis is having on the Engineering Construction Industry. We are also discussing additional measures that might be needed to support employers, learners and providers at this time. We welcome your views on what more Government or the ECITB can do to support you.

Please contact your account manager or ECITB Chief Executive Chris Claydon at ceo@ecitb.org.uk

Updated 04/08/21

The Flexible Workforce Development Fund (FWDF) helps businesses continue to invest in their workforce and is available for all of Scotland ‘s employers who are subject to the UK Government’s Apprenticeship Levy. For the first time, the fund will now be available for both levy payers and SMEs, across the private, public and third sectors.

The FWDF was doubled to £20m for 2020/21, with £13 million made available through the first phase to allow colleges to provide additional support for levy paying employers.

Eligible employers can use the FWDF to address priority skills gaps in their organisation by accessing up to £15,000 in funding to create tailored training programmes with their local college.

SMEs will be able to access up to £5,000 of college and Open University training.

The fund is flexible and allows employers to choose the training that will bring the greatest benefits to their organisation, while motivating and engaging their employees. The fund can be used to completely cover training or to partially cover training at a higher cost

Colleges should work with UK Apprenticeship Levy-paying employers in their region to identify the training they require that will help make a demonstrable return on investment. The analysis should form the basis of the employer’s application, and colleges should work with employers to support the application process.

Levy-payers can now also  source training through private providers administered by Skills Development Scotland.

More info from the Scottish Government: https://findbusinesssupport.gov.scot/service/funding/flexible-workforce-development-fund

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, the ECITB will support certain e-learning courses that do not involve certification. If the e-learning is included in the Member Services Portal (MSP), this will be supported at 100%. Employers should consult the MSP or contact their account manager.

Yes, the ECITB can help with the cost of course conversion to online. This will be reviewed on a case by case basis. Consideration will be made around the subject matter, the volume of training and the costs associated. Please speak to your account manager about the support available.

The ECITB will fund in-house training where equivalent training is available through the MSP. Training will be funded at the rate listed in the MSP. Where in-house training is not listed a discretionary request will need to be submitted.

Furloughed staff using the Government’s Coronavirus Job retention scheme may still be able to undertake training so long as certain conditions are met (see guidance here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-if-you-could-be-covered-by-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme).

Where the conditions are met, the ECITB will grant support training for staff on furlough.

The new offsite levy rate of 0.2% has now come into effect. It applies in respect of levies raised in January 2021 and covers the 2019/20 base period. The increase in the offsite levy rate is being phased in gradually over a three year period to mitigate the impact on industry and it is not our intention to change this.

The ECITB does not grant support mandatory training requirements such as FOET, BOSIET and MIST. This training would happen regardless of ECITB grant support and therefore it is not considered to be an effective use of the levy. Should an employer wish to appeal, they can do so in accordance with the ECITB Grant Policy Complaints Procedure, through the ECITB complaints section of the website

Yes, we  support e-learning or virtual learning that is used as a refresher. We do this already for Mechanical Joint Integrity as an example. We will also support employers who are looking to convert face to face training to e-learning to enable them to continue training.

The ECITB grant supports a wide range of e-learning delivered by other external providers. These courses and their grant lines are available to access in the Member Services Portal. ECITB approved training courses can also be viewed via our online course finder

Yes, details of the candidates registered for the qualification will need to be provided along with evidence of payment (normally a provider invoice indicating payment has been received).