Don’t wash your hands
of your apprentices!
Supporting apprenticeships through the pandemic
During the coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis, the priority for many firms is the management
and retention of staff, writes Kevin Birch, Managing Director of BAR Affiliate TRS Training.
It’s vital that we protect people’s jobs, and this includes apprenticeships.
Lasting change is widely forecast when the UK emerges
from the current crisis. Workforces are likely to be
leaner and smarter, with apprentices set to play an
increasingly important role. Statistics show that
apprentices have a positive impact on productivity
under normal circumstances. For an economy in
recovery, they can make an even more significant
contribution, thanks to their energy levels, enthusiasm
and fresh perspectives.
At present, keeping apprentices on the payroll and
motivated from a distance can be challenging. So,
we’ve put together five essential messages to help
BAR Members manage apprenticeships in the current
Apprentices can be furloughed
At the time of writing, the advice from Downing Street
is very clear: if the current crisis impacts firms to such
an extent that they must consider laying off apprentices,
then there is the option of furloughing. Apprentices
can be furloughed, just like all other members of the
workforce. Full details are included in the Government’s
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which can be
accessed by searching ‘CJRS’ on the Government website
(www.gov.uk). Get in touch with us if you need help
clarifying or implementing this.
No lockdown on virtual learning
The very best news for your apprentices is that they
can continue with their off-the-job training while
furloughed. TRS delivered much of our apprenticeship
training virtually before the crisis began, so this is not
a new area for us. Full remote support is available
through our e-portfolio system in addition to video
24 Removals & Storage June 2020
conference call facilities, including both one-to-one
support and group sessions at a distance. Indeed, in
some cases TRS Training can provide intensive training
timetables so that apprentices can undertake a good
proportion of their off-the-job training while furloughed.
Keep up employee engagement
For many staff members, including apprentices,
working from home will be challenging. Calling an
employee just to see how they are getting on can be a
great lift for both of you! Furloughed employees are not
allowed to work, so communications with these staff
members should not be work related.
Now more than ever is the time to nurture staff and
help them deal with any issues that will affect their
work, such as mental health. Let them know they can
talk to you about any problems and remind them that
discussions are confidential. Sadly, this is often not
enough, as some still perceive a stigma attached to
admitting they are not OK. Mitigate this by emailing
out a list of online resources, and signpost to relevant
online or phone support that is widely available either
through charities of your in-house facilities. And don’t
forget that TRS is here to offer personal support to your
apprentices in addition to training services.
Hit the ground running
It’s useful to take this time to plan ahead for your
apprentices. While TRS is busy delivering training
remotely via online resources and video calling, think
about how to get the most of your apprentices when
they return onsite. By then they will be ahead of their
off-the-job training target, so they will be able to put
more hours into their role. By the time they complete
their end-point assessment, can their job evolve to use
more of their new skills?
The pandemic has thrown the economy and
individual business into turmoil, but opportunities
will still arise. Before you implement a potentially
damaging break in learning, please speak to the highly
qualified team at TRS Training. If you need advice on
how best to support your current apprentices, please
contact your TRS trainer.
For the latest government guidance
on apprenticeship training during the
pandemic, visit www.gov.uk/
TRS Training is the BAR’s
provider. For more information,
email firstname.lastname@example.org or
call 01744 809010.