Yes, an apprentice can continue studying whilst furloughed, as they are still being paid and are still in employment. This is subject to some caveats below which are designed to ensure that apprentices are focused on their training and are not carrying out any work.
The government updated its advice on 27 March 2020 to specify that undertaking training, whilst furloughed, is permitted: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme
"Furloughed employees can engage in training, as long as in undertaking the training the employee does not provide services to, or generate revenue for, or on behalf of their organisation or a linked or associated organisation. Furloughed employees should be encouraged to undertake training.
Where training is undertaken by furloughed employees, at the request of their employer, they are entitled to be paid at least their appropriate national minimum wage for this time. In most cases, the furlough payment of 80% of an employee’s regular wage, up to the value of £2,500, will provide sufficient monies to cover these training hours. However, where the time spent training attracts a minimum wage entitlement in excess of the furlough payment, employers will need to pay the additional wages."
We recommend to all employers that apprentices continue on their programme wherever possible, rather than go on a Break in Learning. This is also recommended by the Association of Employer and Learning Providers, who have stated that apprentices should continue with their studies, whilst not working.
In many cases, employees placed on furlough lose access to their work email. We ask you to remind apprentices to use their Aston email account (this account is the record of reference for all student and apprentice communications) in order to keep in touch with us. If they have provided their work email to us as a contact point, we advise them to change this to a personal email account.
Most importantly, while on furlough, we encourage all apprentices to carefully log their learning hours so that their accrued hours can be utilised against the requirement for 20% off-the-job learning.
Since they are on furlough, apprentices won’t be able to undertake their normal activities, which will impact their ability to develop evidence for their end point assessment. However, it is an opportunity for apprentices to reflect on their professional practice and “work up” examples of application in the workplace aligned to the relevant apprenticeship standard, and we encourage apprentices to do this with the support of their learning coach/workplace tutor.
However, if the apprentice cannot do any study or skills and behaviour development relevant to their apprenticeship standard for more than four consecutive weeks, (perhaps due to caring responsibilities at home) then they may need to go on a Break in Learning from their apprenticeship. This should be for a four week period and then reviewed.
If your apprentice is furloughed please ensure we are notified – please let your Service Delivery Manager know.
We will place this information on the apprentice's records and make an extra effort to encourage them to continue with their studies.