ESFA: Business Update – Issue 62 (October 2020)

In this edition of Business Update, our round-up of business-critical news and information from the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA):

  1. Prime Minister Lifetime Skills Guarantee Speech – 29 September 2020
  2. Ofsted Apprenticeship Inspections – Level 6 and 7
  3. Legislative changes to support redundant apprentices
  4. National Apprenticeship Week 2021 date announced
  5. Top 100 broadcast date announced
  6. National Apprenticeship Awards entries close
  7. website updates
  8. Functional Skills in apprenticeships
  9. Redundancy Support Service for Apprenticeships – YouTube video
  10. Incentive for Hiring a New Apprentice – Recap
  11. IfATE Route Review workshops

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For more information about apprenticeships, you can visit or call 08000 150 600.

1. Prime Minister Lifetime Skills Guarantee Speech – 29 September 2020

The Prime Minister has set out long term plans to transform the training and skills system, making it fit for the 21st century economy and to ensure that, as work changes, people can retrain, upskill, and find new well-paid jobs, helping the country build back better from coronavirus.

Apprenticeship opportunities will be increased, with more funding for SMEs taking on apprentices, and greater flexibility in how their training is structured – especially in sectors such as construction and creative industries where there are more varied employment patterns.

In addition to this:

  • From April, in England adults without an A-Level or equivalent qualification will be offered a free, fully-funded college course – providing them with skills valued by employers, and the opportunity to study at a time and location that suits them, paid for through the National Skills Fund.
  • Higher education loans will also be made more flexible, allowing adults and young people to space out their study across their lifetimes, take more high-quality vocational courses in further education colleges and universities, and to support people to retrain for jobs of the future, backed by continued investment in college buildings and facilities – including over £1.5 billion in capital funding.
  • The government is committed to making higher education more flexible to facilitate lifelong learning, and to make it easy for adults and young people to break up their study into segments, transfer credits between colleges and universities, and enable more part-time study. This new arrangement will provide finance for shorter term studies, rather than having to study in one three or four-year block.
  • The government is also committing £8 million for digital skills boot camps, expanding successful pilots in Greater Manchester and the West Midlands and introducing programmes in four new locations. From next year, boot camps will be extended to sectors like construction and engineering, helping the country build back better and support our refreshed Industrial Strategy.
  • £2.5 billion is also being made available through the National Skills Fund to help get people working again after COVID, as well as giving those in work the chance to train for higher-skilled, better-paid jobs.

View the transcript from the full speech.

2. Ofsted Apprenticeship Inspections – Level 6 and 7

The Education Secretary announced on Monday 28 September that, following careful consideration, the Government has accepted the Augar Review’s recommendation that Ofsted become the single body responsible for the inspection of the quality of apprenticeship training provision at all levels.

From 1 April 2021, Ofsted will therefore assume responsibility for inspecting level 6 and 7 apprenticeships (both degree and non-degree) as they do currently for levels 2-5. The Education Secretary has written to Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman to confirm this policy change.

This change will ensure consistency in quality standards across apprenticeships, so that employers and apprentices can have confidence that apprenticeship training is subject to a consistent approach to quality assurance, regardless of provider type or the level of the apprenticeship.

A series of virtual conferences will be launched later this year to give providers an opportunity to hear directly from ESFA, Ofsted and the OfS, and understand what this change means for them. Further information will follow in due course.

3. Legislative changes to support redundant apprentices

On Thursday 10th September, a statutory instrument (SI) was laid in Parliament that will amend legislation to allow more redundant apprentices to complete their apprenticeships.

Currently the Education and Skills Funding Agency continue to fund the apprentice to complete their programme if they are made redundant within six months of their final day of training. This allows apprentices that are close to the end of their apprenticeship to continue with it while they look for another employer to complete their apprenticeship with, or, if they are unable to find one, allow them to complete their apprenticeship without an employer.

The decision to amend legislation will help support more redundant apprentices affected by COVID-19. The amended legislation will extend this support to also fund to completion all apprentices who are at least 75% of their way through their apprenticeship at the point of redundancy. This will give apprentices who have made a substantial and long-term investment in their apprenticeship the opportunity to complete their training and achieve occupational competence.

These changes will mean more redundant apprentices can complete their apprenticeship, putting them in a stronger position to secure new employment. The SI will extend this support to apprentices undertaking both standards and frameworks.

The SI is currently going through parliamentary processes and we will provide a further update in due course

4. National Apprenticeship Week 2021 date announced

The 14th annual National Apprenticeship Week date has been announced and will take place from 8 to 14 February 2021.

National Apprenticeship Week is an annual week-long celebration of apprenticeships across England and is a time to recognise and applaud apprenticeship success stories across the country. Apprenticeship employers use the opportunity to promote the success of their apprentices and highlight the huge benefits to other employers, of all sizes, who are thinking of taking on an apprentice. Apprentices across the country will also be celebrated throughout the week

Throughout the years, National Apprenticeship Week has connected apprenticeship supporters from across the country, with MPs, ambassadors, apprentices, training providers and top employers involved in recognising the value and importance of apprenticeships.

The theme of National Apprenticeship Week 2021 will be announced in due course on GOV.UK.

5. The Top 100 broadcast will take place on the 21 October 2020.

The Top 100 Apprenticeship Employers ranking will celebrate the country’s outstanding apprenticeship employers and help potential apprentices, parents and careers advisers to easily identify apprenticeship opportunities.

Top employers, who are helping to lead an ‘apprenticeship revolution’ and getting more people into skilled jobs, will be recognised in a new national ranking of the leading employers of apprentices. More than 100,000 organisations in England are now apprenticeship employers, England’s leading employers will be recognised for their overall commitment to employing apprentices, their creation of new apprenticeships, the diversity of their new apprentices, and the progression of their apprentices onto further apprenticeships and employment.

Beginning in 2020, the annual rankings will showcase the nation’s Top 100 employers that have done the most to provide successful apprenticeships over the previous 12 months and have been developed by the National Apprenticeship Service, in partnership with High Fliers Research, who will independently assess and compile the new national leader board of top apprenticeship employers.

More information on how to register to join the broadcast will be made available in the coming weeks on the Top 100 Apprenticeship Employer website.

6. National Apprenticeship Awards entries close

The National Apprenticeship Awards 2020 are now closed for entries.

Back for their 17th year, the National Apprenticeship Awards highlight business and individual success in apprenticeships and are particularly poignant this year, given the challenges many employers and apprentices have faced during the pandemic.

This year winners will be recognised at online broadcast ceremonies. These ceremonies will also showcase good news stories from Covid-19, with examples of where apprentices have gone above and beyond to make a difference.

Regional ceremonies will take place between 2 and 6 November, with the national ceremony taking place on 25 November.

To find out more about the National Apprenticeship Awards 2020, or to sign up to the mailing list, please visit:

7. website updates

The website has been refreshed, with more information including setting up an account on the Apprenticeship Service, support for apprentices who are at risk of, or who have been made redundant (ReSSA) and links to the financial incentives for employers recruiting apprentices.

8. Functional Skills in apprenticeships

We are closely monitoring the assessment of Functional Skills in apprenticeships and delays caused by COVID-19 restrictions. Although most training and assessment has either returned to normal or is being delivered remotely, this has not happened in every case.

The inability to complete Functional Skills elements may delay the completion of apprentices’ programmes. We are working closely with providers and Ofqual to take appropriate actions to resolve the issue, but we also need employers to consider how they can best support their employees

Some employers have not been able to release their apprentices to complete their Functional Skills training or assessment or have not been able to host providers or assessment organisations in the workplace. We believe that, in some instances, these barriers can be overcome. We are asking employers to work with their training providers to explore flexibilities that will allow apprentices to complete their assessments. For instance, hosting them in different locations.

9. The Redundancy Support Service for Apprenticeships – YouTube video

The Redundancy Support Service for Apprentices (ReSSA) provides clear, accessible advice and guidance to individuals on the impact of redundancy, their options, and next steps. Since the service launched on 1 August 2020, we have been able to support apprentices across England. We have been contacted by a range of employers, large and small, who have shared details of their vacancies through the service.

Watch our new YouTube video to find out how taking on a redundant apprentice can benefit your organisation and how to access the service.

If you are aware of any apprentices who have been affected by redundancy please encourage them to visit Facing redundancy during your apprenticeship or call 0800 015 0400 to speak to an adviser.

Read more on GOV.UK.

10. Incentive for Hiring a New Apprentice – Recap

From 1 September, employers large and small can apply for large cash incentivesdesigned to create more high-quality apprenticeship opportunities.

As part of the Government’s Plan for Jobs, employers are being offered £2,000 for each new apprentice aged under 25 they hire, and £1,500 for each new apprentice they hire aged 25 and over, up to the 31st January 2021. This includes taking on an apprentice who has been made redundant.

The new cash incentives for employers are in addition to the existing £1,000 payment for new 16-18-year-old apprentices, and those aged under 25 with an Education, Health and Care Plan.

The incentive payment for hiring a new apprentice is different to the apprenticeship levy and can be used on anything to support organisational costs, for example facilities, uniforms, apprentice’s travel or their salary.

Any organisation can apply for the payment, no matter the size or the sector. Applications must be made through the Apprenticeship Service, employers not currently registered will be able to set up an account.

The apprenticeships incentive is one of a number of skills offers for employers as part of the Government’s Plan for Jobs.

11. IfATE Route Review workshops

Route Reviews determine the future of apprenticeships and technical education, and are set up to ensure the apprenticeship standards meet the Institute’s quality requirements and remain relevant and up to date for employers and apprentices.

The workshops will cover the apprenticeships which are in scope for the route reviews and discuss where improvements could be made. There will also be a discussion on the impact of COVID-19 on the route and working practices.

The Institute for Apprenticeships (IfATE) announced that Route Reviews would be restarting from 18 September 2020. The recommendations from the Hair and Beauty and Creative and Design route reviews will be launched later this year. Dates will be announced soon.

The following workshops to support the Institute’s route reviews have been confirmed.

The engineering and manufacturing workshop, run by Enginuity, will take place on Thursday 8 October from 11am to 3pm.

If you are interested in attending please email and you will be contacted by the organiser.

The workshops for agriculture, environmental and animal care, run by Landex, will take place on:

  • Monday 12th October 2020 – 11am to 3pm
  • Friday 23rd October 2020 – 11am to 3pm
  • Monday 26th October 2020 – 11am to 3pm

If you would like to attend any of these workshops, please email

Please visit the IfATE website for further information.

12. Support

The Business Support Helpline number in England is:

Freephone: 0800 998 1098

The helpline provides free, impartial business support and signposting services to businesses in England – which currently includes business advice on Covid-19.

You can also find free support, advice and sources of finance through your local growth hub or speak to an advisor on webchat about support for your business.

DfE coronavirus helpline: 0800 046 8687

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