Covid-19: 'Our apprentices need us now more than ever'

The government has been supportive so far - but training providers must be prepared for any outcome, writes one chief executive

Joe Crossley

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Right now, so many individuals are fearful about the future in terms of their professional lives. The number of businesses being driven to the brink of collapse is devastating. This is why working closely with small, medium and large enterprises and their employees to help them find solutions that will reduce some of the damage caused by the crisis is crucial to survival.

With new measures being put in place by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) for the duration of the pandemic, our organisation is continuously working to ensure that the impact on our workforce, our students and their employers will be limited.

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Considerations surrounding the flexible delivery of apprenticeships, continuing training and end-point assessment for furloughed apprentices, applying the policy on breaks in learning, delays to end-point assessment (EPA), alternative arrangements for EPA and external quality assurance are all points that we, like many training providers, weigh up daily. Our ability to understand the industry and the thinking of senior education policymakers and how to work with them is crucial to what lies ahead for our sector.

We work with many people from a variety of backgrounds: some labour with learning difficulties such as autism; some live with anxiety and depression but see their apprenticeship programmes as a therapy to alleviate their symptoms. Their courage and commitment are a driving force for us not to give up; they need us now more than ever.

With apprenticeships continuing at present, the government recognises that individuals on the programme play a substantial role in how our economy recovers and how it functions in the future. So, they remain supportive and our industry remains optimistic. However, we are prepared for any outcome: we know that there are well-founded fears that our industry could take a hit at any time.

Joe Crossley is chief executive of Qube learning

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