Covid-19 guidance for employers, training providers and centres

The coronavirus (Covid-19) epidemic is posing major challenges for employers, learners and providers across the Engineering Construction Industry. This remains a constantly evolving situation and we are reviewing matters on a regular basis.

This webpage contains the latest information about how we are responding to the crisis across all ECITB operations and will be updated regularly. All new developments will also be communicated through our social media channels.

On 5 May, the ECITB announced a wide-ranging package of measures to support industry. Read more here.

A core initiative is the ECITB’s Train to Retain scheme which has now had two application rounds for graduates, apprentices and trainees.  To find out more about the Train to Retain support programme click here.

The ECITB is committed to supporting the industry through the Covid-19 pandemic in whatever way possible. Since the crisis broke, we have taken a range of measures to support employers, including additional funding for e-learning and direct purchasing of training from training providers for a temporary period to ease cash flow.

On 5th May, we launched a major skills rescue package for industry, including a £4.5m Train to Retain scheme aimed at retaining essential skills which opened for applications in June, as well as measures to stem the fall in new entrants. These include a new condensed ITEC programme and scholarship programme, whose cohorts will commence in September.

As the lockdown restrictions begin to ease, we are starting to see employers and training providers return to physical training and assessment activity and the ECITB is ready to support all grant training requests.

We are acutely aware of the operating challenges that employers have faced during this time. ECITB policies allow employers to apply to be considered for an instalment payment plan if they feel that they are unable to pay their outstanding levy in one payment and can demonstrate financial hardship.

Last updated: 12/08/20

From 1st September, the CCNSG Essential Worker initiative and extension to the 3-month renewal grace period will end.

If your CCNSG safety passport expires after 31 August 2020 you will only have the normal 3 month window to renew.

Our network of CCNSG training providers are now, in the main, back to face to face delivery with the number of cards delivered increasing from 78 in April to over 2,000 in July.

Last updated 05/08/20

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

At the start of the lockdown, the ECITB took action to directly fund training providers to deliver ECITB approved courses online in areas such as supervision, commercial awareness and project controls. This was designed as a temporary measure to make it easier for employers to access training and alleviate cash flow concerns.

As companies revert to normal working, we are finding that there is no longer a need to provide this facility. We will therefore be suspending the direct funding of training to new applicants as of the 1st September 2020. From this date, training grants will be accessible via the normal route. As part of our evaluation of the scheme, we will be undertaking further research into options for directly funded training for consideration as part of our standard offer for 2021.

Updated 12/08/20

The COVID-19 crisis having a major impact on the recruitment of apprentices this year, with our estimates suggesting at least a 30% reduction in new starts against the forecast at the start of the year. In the short to medium term, it is unlikely that employers will see apprentice recruitment as a priority and there is a risk that new entrant numbers overall will decline. The ECITB has been working on a range of initiatives that will ensure employers continue to benefit from a pipeline of new entrants, including expansion of the ITEC programme (see below) and our new scholarship initiative.

We 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) is implementing new measures, for the duration of the pandemic, 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:

  • introducing flexibilities to allow furloughed apprentices to continue their training, as long as it does not provide services to, or generate revenue for, their employer
  • encouraging training providers to deliver training to apprentices remotely and via e-learning as far as is practicable
  • allowing the modification of end-point assessment arrangements, including remote assessments wherever practicable and possible in order to maintain progress and achievement for apprentices
  • clarifying that apprentices ready for assessment, but who cannot be assessed due to COVID-19 issues, can have their end-point assessment rescheduled. Apprentices whose gateway is delayed can have an extension to the assessment timeframe
  • enabling employers and training providers to report and initiate a break in learning, where the interruption to learning due to COVID-19 is greater than 4 weeks
  • clarification on how to record breaks in learning so that funding is not unnecessarily disrupted
  • confirming that, where apprentices are made redundant, it is our ambition to find them alternative employment and continue their apprenticeship as quickly as possible and within 12 weeks.

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

Updated 12/08/20

In 2020, the ITEC, which normally lasts 42 weeks, will be delivered in 32 weeks as a full-time condensed programme that focuses on specific skills shortages in particular regions of the UK. And to support learners impacted by the pandemic, the ECITB will provide ITEC students with a training allowance payment of £100 per week over the duration of the course. This has been introduced to support the 2020 cohort of ITEC learners who in previous years could have had part-time jobs; the introduction of a full-time condensed programme will lessen the opportunity for any part-time work.

Provision has been made for some learners to follow a discipline-focused programme this year; for example, 12 learners in the North East will learn welding skills and knowledge rather than general engineering training.

Undertaking training in a safe, socially-distanced environment is of paramount importance. Training providers delivering the course this year were required to show they could deliver safe classroom and workshop spaces and use digital technology for virtual delivery of the knowledge elements of the programme.

Eight training providers have been awarded contracts to deliver the course to a cohort of 98 learners who will follow programmes tailored to welding and pipefitting disciplines or general engineering starting in September.

The 2020 ITEC will be delivered by:

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

Last updated: 12/08/20

At the start of lockdown we announced that any candidate awaiting a technical test and/or whose Work Based Task Assignment was near the 12-month limit would be given a 6-month extension to complete their test, as well as to any candidate who has a valid test certificate which is set to expire in the coming months.

As we are coming out of lockdown and providers are able to resume activities we have reviewed the situation and decided that the extensions will stop from 31st July 2020.  Any candidate whose expiry date was between 9th March and 31st July is eligible for the 6 month extension.  Any candidate with an expiry date after 31st July will be expected to complete the renewal under the normal conditions.

Last updated: 08/07/20

We have temporarily suspended testing of the ad hoc workforce until further notice. In the interim all confirmed testing events will be at the discretion of both the worker and training provider. As stated above, we ask that all those involved in testing to carefully consider and follow the latest government guidance.

Last updated: 30/03/20

Provider audits are now starting again. The provider account manager will be in touch to arrange the audit subject to local Covid-19 restrictions and following the ECITB risk assessment.

Last updated: 03/08/20

As the home nations gradually ease out of lockdown and businesses reopen and individuals start to return to the workplace, we recognise that it will be some time before things return to the way they were.  We realise this restricts the ability of our Approved Centres to continue with the assessment of some ECITB candidates. There may also be instances of local lockdowns which further restrict or provide challenges of access to candidates for assessment purposes.

The ECITB Awarding Organisation introduced new processes at the beginning of lockdown for remote assessment of candidates – both for skills assessment and for the mandatory knowledge tests.  These processes will remain available throughout 2020 for those Centres who wish to utilise these.  A review will be undertaken ahead of 2021.  However, from 1st September 2020 normal test fees will apply.

The Awarding Organisation also adapted its approach in lockdown to enable a switch to remote monitoring for its external quality assurance activities. In the small number of cases where this was not possible monitoring visits were temporarily postponed. Remote external quality assurance has proved highly effective with no loss of quality or scrutiny. As it stands, we will be looking to establish some of the measures introduced as part of our Covid-19 response as more permanent measures.

For the time being, where it remains possible to do so, all ECITB external quality assurance activities will endeavour to continue to operate remotely.  External Quality Assurers (EQAs) and the AO management team will continue to review sampling plans and make decisions based on a risk-based approach. Where a visit is deemed necessary, a full risk assessment will be undertaken with conditions needing to be in place for sign-off. Visits will be allowed where remote monitoring is not possible subject to the appropriate social distancing and safety measures being in place.

The Awarding Organisation is currently investigating further use of technology to aid and benefit Centres and candidates in the future delivery of its qualifications.

As a reminder, all Approved Centres who wish to adopt the use of digital recording and 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.

Note, Technical Discussions can continue to be carried out remotely without the need for additional approval.

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.

**IMPORTANT INFORMATION** ‘2020 EXTRAORDINARY FRAMEWORK CALCULATED RESULTS’ – 13th AUGUST 2020

Please click here for full details of how the Awarding Organisation has calculated results for those qualifications affected by these regulatory Conditions.

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.

The vast majority of 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. If you are signed up to attend an event, you will be informed of the alternative arrangements.

Last updated: 12/08/20

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 27/04/20

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 ECITB does not have the legal power to issue levy rebates. The ECITB derives its powers to collect a levy through the 1981 Industrial Training Act and the 2017 Levy Order. Both pieces of legislation would need to be amended to allow the ECITB to give rebates. We are acutely aware of the financial pressures that many levy-paying employers are facing and are discussing this matter with our sponsor department, the Department for Education. Financial relief has also been offered to business by the Government through the Coronavirus Job retention Scheme and other measures.

The next set of levy payments are due in January 2021. They will cover the levy base period April 2019 to March 2020. It is important that the ECITB is able to support training that has been deferred during the crisis and it is therefore not our intention to delay the January 2021 levy collection.

The new levy rates will be in place for levy raised in respect of the 2019/20 base period which means the first increase in the offsite levy rate will be applied to levies raised in January 2021. It is important that ECITB is able to support training that has been deferred during the crisis and it is therefore not our intention to amend the rates that will be applied to the 2019/20 base period.

This year the deadline for the completion of the Levy Declaration will be extended to enable employers to complete the declaration over a longer period of time than usual. The portal is planned to open in mid April and the submission deadline will be set at 31st August 2020

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.

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).