We have been committed to supporting apprentices and employers to safely continue with, and complete, their programmes throughout the COVID-19 outbreak. In recognition of the impact of COVID-19 we introduced a number of ongoing flexibilities to ensure that apprenticeships can continue where possible. This included making it possible for furloughed apprentices to continue their apprenticeships and undertake end-point assessments.
All apprentices have been able to return to onsite learning since 8 March. However, we recognise the need to continue to support apprentices that are at risk of or have been made redundant. We are committed to supporting redundant apprentices to find new opportunities and to continue and complete their apprenticeships wherever possible. In August 2020, we introduced the Redundancy Support Service for Apprentices which provides clear, accessible advice and guidance to individuals on the impact of redundancy, their options and next steps.
As part of this service, we also launched a vacancy sharing scheme to help redundant apprentices find new apprenticeship opportunities with employers. We encourage employers to use this service to find redundant apprentices who may already have the knowledge, skills and behaviours needed to hit the ground running and add considerable value to their business. An employer recruiting a redundant apprentice can receive a £3000 incentive payment, introduced as part of the government’s Plan for Jobs.
We have also amended legislation to enable more apprentices to complete their apprenticeship in the event of redundancy. We will fund an apprentice’s training to completion if they have less than six months of their apprenticeship remaining, or if they have completed 75% or more of their apprenticeship at the point of redundancy.
We continue to monitor the impact of COVID-19 on the apprenticeships programme to ensure that apprentices and employers are well supported. Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, the government’s priority has always been to protect jobs and incomes, and the furlough scheme has protected 11.5 million jobs between March 2020 and 14 April 2021.