Coronavirus update for customers

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Coronavirus update for customers

NOCN Group offers a wide range of services including regulated qualifications, EPA for apprenticeships, Job Cards in construction, Access to HE Diplomas, bespoke accreditation, and educational and skills support training.

As you will be aware the government imposed a third national lockdown from Tuesday 5th January 2021. You will find out more operational detail on the implications for each of these services through the following links:

Business Development
Regulated Qualifications
EPA for Apprenticeships
Job Cards in construction (CPCS)
One Awards

Please note that NOCN Group will be following the guidance issued by the ESFA, IfATE, Ofqual, CCEA Regulation, QAA, and Qualifications Wales, and will update our customers as things change.

If you have any concerns or would like to discuss the impact on your centre, apprentices or learners please contact us on or 0300 999 1177.

Further information:

Letter from Gavin Williamson CBE MP to Simon Lebus

Letter from Simon Lebus to Rt Hon Gavin Williamson CBE MP

DfE and Ofqual have launched two consultations (15th January):

GCSE, AS and A Level awarding in summer 2021

Alternative arrangements for the award of VTQs and other generals in 2021

Using Xbox to Access Online Learning

It is possible for learners to access their online work from home using a gaming console. For guidance on how to do this please download the document here.

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Potential loss of Level 2 and below funding would be disastrous for the construction industry

The British Association of Construction Heads (BACH) has submitted its response to the Government’s consultation on the future of level 2 and below qualifications and programmes.

BACH outlined significant concerns over the future of proper training for the construction sector if the Government decides to cut funding.

“It’s vitally important in construction that milestone progression from entry to and including Level 2 is available, accessible and appropriately funded through study programmes and other routes. Without, it would be devastating for those wishing to access the industry and to get into employment. Entry to Level 2 is a significant part of most Colleges’ construction provision. We also have large numbers of students that have poor or low-Level achievements coming from schools that need extra help.” Says David Wilkins, Chair of BACH and Director of Construction & Building Services, Bedford College

The consultation on potential cuts in funding is at a time when construction will be short of people and the Government will be investing in building and infrastructure to help support the recovery from the Covid pandemic. We will be adding to the national skills shortage for the industry.

“There are 1.1 million jobs in the construction industry at Level 2 and below and the Government’s new apprentices are predominantly at Level 2. The Level 2 and below workforce is a valued and critical backbone of the industry. These are good well-paid jobs that make an enormous contribution to the UK’s economy. We must continue to invest in these jobs.” Says Graham Hasting-Evans, a Chartered Civil Engineer and President of BACH.

Without having achieved an industry approved qualification or apprenticeship certificated pass, all of which are at Level 2 or below, people will be unable to qualify for a CSCS card and therefore will not be able to work.

Any cuts in funding at Level 2 and below by the Department of Education, the Combined Authorities and the local enterprise organisations will be disastrous for the future of the construction industry. BACH implores the Government and local funding organisation to think very seriously before cutting training in this most important of sectors.

This is at a time when construction will be short of people and the Government will be investing in building and infrastructure to help support the recovery from the Covid pandemic. We will be adding to the national skills shortage for the industry.

  • By the mid-2020s the economy overall will still have 3.69 million jobs that only require Level 1 skills and 6.13 million jobs that only require Level 2 skills [source Government forecasts]. Combined Level 1 and 2 will represent 27.8% of the entire workforce. There is a strong economic case for training and qualifying people for these jobs at Level 2 and below. Specifically in construction, 0.5 million jobs have either people with no qualification or just a Level 1 qualification. There are 0.6 million employed at Level 2 making the combine Level 2 and below workforce as 1.1 million. They are the backbone of the sector and the majority of the craft and operative workforce.
  • This structure of the industry is reflected in the new Apprenticeship Standards. In construction, the current structure of Apprenticeship Standards is that for many trades they are set at Level 2 with no natural progression to Level 3. It must also be appreciated that the construction sector is a ‘carded’ industry. Learners must have a recognised qualification at Level 2 or below or an apprenticeship ‘pass’ certificate in order to be issued with a CSCS or CSCS partner SMART card. Without such a card they cannot be employed.
  • The type of learners and apprentices in construction are practically based not academic. They need support through Entry and Level 1, as well as more generally employability skills, to get them on to a Level 2 apprenticeship or programme of learning. Entry and Level 1 progression is crucial. The need to develop practical skills from ‘scratch’ in order to enable further skill development at Levels 2 and 3 is vitally important as attaining higher practical skills are not inherent in Entry Level learners; they have to be nurtured.
  • It is understood that across the economy the Department has a long-term aim of increasing the percentage of people with a Level 3 qualification. However, laudable as this may be, it cannot happen overnight and is inappropriate for all sectors. We are concerned that the Department’s current consultation on funding for Level 2 and below will result in a curtailment of the funding. This is matched by a concern that Combined Authorities and LEPs are already starting to curtail funding for Level 2 and below in AEB.
  • We asked the Department to urgently confirm that funding for Level 2 and below will continue for the construction sector and encourage the Combined Authorities and LEPs to also provide funding from AEB for Level 2 and below for our important sector.

If we do not take urgent action now we are in danger of creating long term damage to training in the sector as well as not being able to provide industry with the skills it requires.

Working closely with national, regional and SME employers, the British Association of Construction Heads (BACH) has some 250 individual members and represents over 100 FE Colleges that deliver construction training and apprenticeships. BACH’s member FE Colleges are focused on what industry and employers want.

The Colleges support some 40,000 people studying qualifications and apprenticeships for jobs in construction.

Chair: David Wilkins, Director of Construction & Building Services, Bedford College

President: Graham Hasting-Evans, M.Sc. C.Eng, MICE, FIC-CMC