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 is an unprecedented and constantly evolving situation and we are reviewing matters on a daily 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.

The ECITB stands committed to helping the engineering construction industry through this difficult period and we wish all our customers and stakeholders well at this time.

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

To find out more about the ECITB’s Train to Retain support programme for apprentices, trainees and graduates click here.

The ECITB is committed to supporting the industry through this crisis in whatever way possible. This includes grant supporting any training that can be delivered during this period and helping employers retain skilled staff. We must also ensure we are in a position to support training that has been or is being deferred, once the pandemic has come to an end.

We are acutely aware of the operating challenges facing levy-paying employers during this time. With cash flow a key issue for employers and providers we will look to pay directly for training where possible.  It is also important we keep an eye on the pipeline of new entrants and we are examining options for grant supporting training and continuing professional development of graduates, apprentices and other trainees to secure key skills in the industry. Further information will be communicated in due course.

In addition, 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: 30/03/20

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.

The ECITB has not suspended licences or technical support for testing or training activity, nor instructed any ECITB licence holders to suspend any such activity. The Government has suggested that work in ‘critical sectors’, including those related to the oil, gas, electricity and food production sectors should continue, therefore some safety critical training and testing may still be required. Nevertheless, we ask that all those involved in training and testing to carefully consider and follow the latest government guidance on social distancing and hygiene before providing or accessing any of these services.

Last updated: 30/03/20

The Coronavirus is having a major impact on training and we are therefore considering ways in which to help employers and training providers conduct training.  We are actively encouraging in-scope employers to consider online training options for their staff. Employers can apply for ECITB grant support towards online training through the Membership Services Portal or by speaking to their account manager.

In-scope employers may choose to furlough staff using the Government’s Coronavirus Job retention scheme. Under this arrangement, affected individuals 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.

Last updated: 26/03/20

A number of grant-funded online learning programmes will continue to be delivered by ECITB approved training providers, including 20|20 Project ManagementProvekKingsfield AcademyHydratight and Mintra. Follow the links to find out more about courses on offer and dates.

As a temporary measure, we waived registration fees for ECITB approved courses delivered or procured online with ECITB Approved Providers with effect from 1st April until the end of June.  Any agreement to fund training after 30th June will be subject to registration fees at the normal level described in the license agreement.

Employers looking to convert their in-house courses onto digital platforms may also be eligible for support. The ECITB may support the conversion costs as part of course development.  Please speak with your account manager.

We have put in place a mechanism to fund ECITB approved online (virtual) courses directly from approved training providers.  Further information on this will be communicated separately.

Last updated: 03/08/20

The COVID-19 crisis is likely to have a major impact on the recruitment of apprentices this year. For 2020 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 is working on a range of initiatives that will ensure employers continue to benefit from a pipeline of new entrants. Further information will be communicated shortly.

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.

For the latest guidance from Government for apprentices facing redundancy see here

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.

Last updated: 27/04/20

The ECITB is working with ITEC providers and learners to ensure that both parties remain committed to completing the 2019 ITEC programme. Training providers delivering our ITEC programme will continue to receive payments irrespective of course completions in June. We will pay providers an additional £1,000 for every learner who formally returns to the programme to complete the ITEC later in the year.

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: 29/07/20

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 a result of the Government’s measures requiring people to stay at home except for limited purposes and the closure of non-essential businesses, we realise this restricts the ability of our Approved Centres to continue with the assessment of ECITB candidates.

All face to face External Quality Assurance (EQA) visits have been cancelled until further notice.  EQAs are currently reviewing their sampling plans and will make decisions based on a risk-based approach, whether to postpone monitoring visits and/or continue with remote monitoring at this stage.  The Awarding Organisation is making use of technology to enable it to continue with effective external quality assurance

In order to enable Approved Centres and candidates to continue with the assessment for ECITB Qualifications, the Awarding Organisation will allow, with conditions, the use of third party digital recordings that contain both visual and audio content as evidence that can be used for the remote observation and assessment of skills criteria by an ECITB Approved Assessor. All Approved Centres who wish to adopt the use of digital recording and remote skills assessment must seek advice and approval from their EQA prior to assessment taking place. Email qualifications@ecitb.org.uk for further information.

In addition, Professional Discussions can 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.

For all candidate enquiries, please contact your Approved Centre who is delivering your qualification for further details on how you may continue with your assessment at this challenging time.

Last updated: 30/03/20

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.

All our staff have been instructed to work from home and avoid all face to face meetings. 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: 30/03/20

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

The ECITB is not able to cover employers’ salary costs. Companies seeking support for salary costs should apply to furlough employees through the Government’s Coronavirus Job retention scheme.

We are currently putting in place a mechanism to grant fund ECITB Approved Courses delivered online and e-learning directly from training providers. The ECITB intends to pay the full costs of training upfront on behalf of employers. This will not only help with employer cash flow, it will also provide a crucial revenue stream to training providers to provide essential training through the crisis. Further information on this will be communicated shortly.

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 facing many levy-paying employers at the present time and are discussing this matter with our sponsor department, the Department for Education. Financial relief is also being 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

We will 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.

We are currently putting in place a mechanism to procure e-learning directly from approved training providers. Further information on this, including the type of courses that will be supported, will be communicated shortly. In addition, the ECITB currently 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).