Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, SDS has considered and agreed measures to reduce disruption to contract holders, employers and apprentices in the delivery of Foundation, Modern and Graduate Apprenticeships, and the Employability Fund.

We recognise that Foundation, Modern and Graduate Apprentices, as well as learners on other SDS training programmes, may have questions about certification and completion.  We also recognise that as employers and learning providers respond to the current situation, work-based learning practices are highly likely to be disrupted. 

SDS is working with SQA and other awarding bodies to support their guidance for individuals and learning providers to ensure that the effects of disruption are minimised and that wherever possible, apprentices and learners are not negatively impacted in the long term. 

 

Our initial focus is on interim measures to assist in providing supporting documentation for MA starts, where providers are unable to gain entry to employer premises.   

The measures outlined below will be in place from 13 March 2020 until 31 March 2020.  We will review the situation for the new 2020/21 contract year at that time and will keep you updated on progress and any new guidelines. 

In the interim, if you have particular issues not addressed by the guidance below, please email NTPContracts@sds.co.uk.

Interim Measures to 31 March 2020 

1. FIPs 

Providers must continue to input all start information to FIPS, keep all documentation required, and ensure these are available to upload to FIPS on request.  

2. Documentation where face-to-face meetings are impossible   

If providers are unable to conduct meetings with Apprentices and/or employers face-to face due to the Coronavirus pandemic, SDS will relax the MA specification and conditions to allow these meetings via video conferencing/Skype/face time or telephone.  As a result, the following requirements for signatures will apply: 

For signatures, providers should, where their technology allows, follow the guidance in Option 1 below. If they are unable to gain signatures in this way, providers should then consider the measures in Option 2.   

Option 1  

You must ensure that all required signatures are original on all SDS documentation.  By original we mean a signature captured by the hand of the person it represents and used where there is knowledge of and an intent to sign a specific document.  This can be the traditional method of pen to paper or electronically by using a stylus, finger, touch pad or mouse. 

Copies (including scanned copies) of the original document or form with the required signatures are acceptable for payment assurance purposes.  

For the avoidance of doubt, SDS will not accept a typed signature in any font or any saved image of a signature. 

Option 2  

If the measures in Option 1 are not achievable, then in place of a signature SDS will accept an email to the Provider confirming the signatory (apprentice and/or employer and/or Provider) has read, understood and contributed as appropriate to the named document. The email must be from a unique and identifiable email address. This email must be retained with the named document as evidence. 

The onus is on the provider to ensure that the content of the email reflects the requirements associated with each document and captures the information detailed below. 

For 2019/20 documentation providers are required to include the following statements:

Training Agreement
Required signatures: Apprentice, Employer and Provider Signature 
Description: This email contains the Training Agreement for the apprenticeship. If you respond positively to this email you confirm that you will undertake the apprenticeship with the support of your Learning Provider and that you have read and understood the agreement.  

Participant and Provider Declaration
Required signatures: Apprentice and Provider Signature    
Description: This email contains the Participant and Provider Declaration Form. If you respond positively to this email you confirm that you have read and completed this and confirm that you are eligible to undertake an apprenticeship. 

Equalities Monitoring Form
Required signatures: Apprentice Signature
Description: This email contains the Equalities Monitoring Form. If you respond positively to this email you confirm that you have read and completed this and understand that for equality monitoring purposes, the Learning Provider will input the information to an SDS system and then destroy the hard copy of the form.     

Eligibility Confirmation for Modern Apprenticeship Enhanced Funding    
Required signatures: Apprentice and Provider Signature 
Description: This email contains the Eligibility Confirmation for Modern Apprenticeship Enhanced Funding Form. By replying positively to this email, you confirm that you have completed this to say that you are Disabled or Care Experienced and that you understand that the Learning Provider will apply for Enhanced Funding that will be used to support you to achieve your apprenticeship.

Individual Training Plan
Required signatures: Apprentice, Employer and Provider Signature 
Description: This email contains the Individual Training Plan. If you respond positively to this email you confirm that you have read and completed this with the Learning Provider. 

Next Steps 

If you have any questions or issues not addressed by the guidance above, please email NTPContracts@sds.co.uk.  
 
We continue to liaise with the Scottish Training Federation and the Scottish Government on measures to support contract holders through this uncertain period.  We urge you to follow the Scottish Government’s latest information and advice on Coronavirus at gov.scot/coronavirus. Public health advice can be found at: Coronavirus (COVID-19) on NHS Inform.  

Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, SDS recognises that there are a number of challenges facing some learning providers to fully deliver Foundation Apprenticeships.

We have received some communications advising that there are instances of employers having to suspend work placements as well as some temporary school closures, which can prevent or delay the Foundation Apprentices from completing the outcomes needed to achieve their qualification. It is extremely important during this period of disruption that the schools, learners, their parents/guardians, employers and SDS are kept up-to-date with any changes to delivery as soon as reasonably possible.

SDS requests that you stay in close contact with your Development & Delivery Executive or Contracts & Performance Adviser to notify us of any disruption to your service.

This includes whether learners’ progression on their programme will be affected by either sickness, self-isolation or employers suspending work placements preventing the Foundation Apprentices participating in the activities needed for the SVQ element of their qualification.

We are keen that any interruption to delivery does not lead to individuals or employers disengaging, and therefore request that you inform newapprenticeships@sds.co.uk where apprentices have been told not to attend college/training centres and/or work placement and are not currently engaging in training activities with details on what the disruption is. 

Can you also ensure that you keep schools, learners and employers up-to-date with any changes to your delivery of Foundation Apprenticeships. This will include suspension of delivery such as employers delaying work placements, changes of training or employer venues, use of virtual learning and what your next steps will be.

To maintain learner progression and FA delivery, where possible there are instances emerging of learning providers identifying different methods of delivery such as virtual learning instead of face-to-face classroom-based activity. Can you please ensure any variations to FA delivery are appropriate, approved by the awarding body and that you advise SDS of these changes.

To inform senior level conversations and allow SDS to support, we require an up to date view of learner progress and ask that you provide SDS with a summary of progress to-date of those learners who are due to complete their FA this academic year. These are as follows:

  1. Cohort 3 Starts 2018-20 – 2 Year Delivery Model
  2. Cohort 4 Starts 2019-20 – Shorter Duration Delivery Model

Please submit this information by Wednesday 25th March 2020 to new newapprenticeships@sds.co.uk marked Foundation Apprenticeships - Learner Progress.

We continue to liaise with SQA, SFC, Colleges Scotland, the Scottish Training Federation and the Scottish Government on measures to support contract holders through this uncertain period.

We urge you to follow the Scottish Government’s latest information and advice on Coronavirus at gov.scot/coronavirus.

Public health advice can be found at: Coronavirus (COVID-19) on NHS Inform

Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, SDS recognises that there are a number of challenges facing some delivery partners to fully deliver Graduate Apprenticeships. We have received some communications advising that there are instances of campus closures leading to Delivery Partners changing their method of delivery from face-to-face to virtual learning. It is extremely important during this period of disruption that Graduate Apprentices, employers and SDS are kept up-to-date with any changes to delivery as soon as reasonably possible.

We are keen that any interruption to delivery does not lead to individuals or employers disengaging, and therefore request that you inform newapprenticeships@sds.co.uk where Graduate Apprentices have been told not to attend university or work, aren’t currently engaging in training activities with details on what the disruption is. Can you also ensure that you keep apprentices and their employers up-to-date with any changes to your delivery of Graduate Apprenticeships including deferred learning, changes to venues, use of virtual learning and what your next steps will be.

To maintain apprentice progression, there are instances emerging of delivery partners identifying different methods of delivery such as virtual learning instead of face-to-face classroom-based activity, can you please ensure any variations to delivery are appropriately approved and that you advise SDS of these changes.

To inform senior level conversations and allow SDS to support, we require an up to date view of learner progress and ask that you provide SDS with a summary of progress to-date of those who are due to complete their GA this academic year and if there will be any delay to them achieving their Graduate Apprenticeship.

We continue to liaise with SFC and the Scottish Government on measures to support GA providers through this uncertain period. 

We urge you to follow the Scottish Government’s latest information and advice on Coronavirus at gov.scot/coronavirus. Public health advice can be found at: Coronavirus (COVID-19) on NHS Inform

SDS requests that you stay in close contact with Brian Hermiston brian.hermiston@sds.co.uk or your Development & Delivery Executive to notify us of any disruption to your service. Brian will be in touch imminently to discuss your current position and contingency plans to sustain GA delivery.

Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, we request that you stay in close contact with your Skills Investment Adviser to notify us of any disruption to your service including whether trainees’ allowances will be affected by either sickness or self-isolation.   
 
We are keen that any disruption does not lead to individuals disengaging, and therefore request that you inform NTPContracts@sds.co.uk where trainees have been told not to attend training centres and/or work experience and are not currently engaging in training activities.     

SDS will arrange with local teams to engage with the trainees to offer ongoing support as part of our continuity of service. 

We continue to liaise with the Scottish Training Federation and the Scottish Government on measures to support contract holders through this uncertain period. 

We urge you to follow the Scottish Government’s latest information and advice on Coronavirus at gov.scot/coronavirus. Public health advice can be found at: Coronavirus (COVID-19) on NHS Inform.