Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for apprentices

Guidance and temporary measures for apprentices and higher level apprentices, in response to the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Advice for apprentices

As an apprentice, you may be concerned about how the coronavirus pandemic impacts on your health and future career. 

The Department for the Economy (DfE) is working closely with training contractors to develop the support measures needed for apprenticeships to continue.

Your training contractor will advice you how you can continue your learning. If you need to contact them, you can find them at:

If you have an urgent query and are unable to contact your training contractor, email Apprenticeships@economy-ni.gov.uk.

Qualifications and Examinations

DfE is working closely with CCEA Regulation to put arrangements in place for flexibilities in assessment for 2020-21.  They are working closely with the awarding organisations and other regulators to make sure they deliver teaching and learning safely and use any opportunities for blended learning approaches.

Continued learning

Face-to-face apprenticeship training can take place where appropriate, depending on the advice in the framework document for safe resumption of on-site training.

Your training contractor/ Further Education (FE) college/ university will continue to develop a blended approach to delivering training, including facilitation of online learning, where appropriate.

If you have concerns about the continuation of your learning, or queries about the availability of online learning, contact your training contractor to discuss.

Interruption to employment

Furloughed apprentices

You may, as an apprentice, have been furloughed under the terms of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. This scheme closes on 31 October 2020.

To help you return from furlough, DfE has introduced an Apprenticeship Recovery Package which will provide incentive payments to employers to support the return, retention and result for apprentices.

A new Job Retention Bonus offers additional support to employers who keep on their furloughed employees in employment, after the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ends on 31 October 2020.

The government announced a new Job Support Scheme which will open on 1 November 2020 and run for 6 months until April 2021.

Your employer will pay you for time worked, but the cost of hours not worked will be split between the employer, the Government (through wage support) and the employee (through a wage reduction), and the employee will keep their job.

If using the Job Support Scheme your employer will also be able to claim the Job Retention Bonus if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Support for apprentices made redundant

If you are made redundant your training contractor must remove you from the apprenticeship programme. You can be rejoined at the earliest possible opportunity.

Advice and support if you have been made redundant is available:

If you’re aged 16-17 and are an apprentice who has been made redundant, you may be able to continue the knowledge-based qualification with your training contractor as part of the Training for Success Programme (TFS). This should be discussed with your training contractor.

Looking for another job

Support is available to apprentices who are made redundant, including help to source another employer to continue your apprenticeship or alternative employment within a different sector/ career path.

The Careers Service can help you in match your skills and experience to those opportunities currently in demand.

You can get information on job vacancies from your local Jobs and Benefits office throughout Northern Ireland and JobCentre Online.

Rejoining the apprenticeship programme

If you were already on the programme and left as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19) redundancy, you can rejoin to complete the rest of your apprenticeship once an employer has committed to your apprenticeship.

You and your employer must speak to a training contractor to arrange your rejoin and your ‘off-the-job’ training. Further information is available at:

Financial support and benefits

If you are made redundant, you may be eligible for financial support during the COVID-19 outbreak. Further information is available at:

Further help

Further help and guidance about the apprenticeship programme, contact DfE Apprenticeship Delivery and Performance Branch at:

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