phone hamburger close

Covid-19 – Business Continuity Plan

We know that our service users and partners depend on our ability to provide a reliable, uninterrupted service; so in light of the recent developments around the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), we would like to reassure our service users, and share the measures that we are taking to ensure business continuity during this time.

We have made significant investments in our technology infrastructure and business continuity planning, to ensure we can operate all our systems and processes remotely with no interruptions to normal service levels.  We have rigorously tested our business continuity strategies to ensure we can provide ‘business as usual’ services, and this is now fully in place. Our entire workforce is now working remotely from home, in line with government guidelines, and we are now operating as follows:

  • Individual desk phones are diverted to mobile phones, allowing continuous phone access to our teams and ensuring all departments continue to work seamlessly. Email and mobile phone communication will continue as normal
  • All of our staff are equipped with laptops, chargers, headsets, mobile phones and access to the 4G network to ensure they can continue to work effectively, wherever they are.
  • Our IT systems are designed to suit a remote workforce. We use VPN technology to ensure our staff can access documents from anywhere and share them with each other and our clients and suppliers.
  • Our culture has become one of digital collaboration, and our staff regularly use video conferencing and instant messaging technology to work effectively together across multiple locations.
  • We have policies in place which cover the appropriate way to work securely when out of the office to ensure confidentiality and the protection of data.
  • All internet connections on VSS laptops and phones are protected using secure VPN technology.
  • All systems and tools for managing general enquiries, course bookings etc, are remotely accessed by our teams via mobile phones and laptops.
  • Microsoft Teams is used internally and externally to work with our colleagues and partners for productive collaboration and content sharing.
  • The delivery of Forklift Truck Practical and SIA Door Supervisor Training has been paused for the foreseeable future, and our Offices and Training Centres have been temporally closed until further notice.
  • Face-to-face delivery has been switched to virtual environments, using the Zoom platform for group teaching, WhatsApp messaging, telephone contact and emails, so our learners can attend their courses remotely. All courses other than the FLT & SIA courses mentioned above are now being delivered remotely. You can browse our full course list here

The sudden absence of key staff is covered in our Company Risk Register & Mitigation document which considers the risk, probability, impact, priority and details the mitigation(s) in place and the resulting post-mitigation rating. This is reviewed & signed annually, or after any significant impact/disaster should it occur. The sudden absence of key staff could be by sickness or any other reason and is mitigated by having enough staff employed in all areas to cover the loss; staff are multi-trained to cover roles; and succession planning is in place.

We’re in touch with our suppliers and service partners who have contractual obligations and have appropriate plans and arrangements in place to ensure the continuity of the supply of services to our service users and partners.

We are therefore open for business as usual and remain committed to supporting our service users and employer clients with our unparalleled level of service and will continue to monitor the situation, providing updates appropriately and promptly.  If you have any questions, please contact a member of the team on 0161 478 4040 or email covid-19@vocationalsolutions.co.uk

Below is our most recent statement regarding COVID-19, which we will continue to update over the coming days and weeks.

Update from VSS’ Managing Director, Phil Juniper (13th May 2020)

With updated information from the UK Government on the spread of COVID-19 we have updated our Company Statement. We continue to closely monitor the situation and guidance provided on the following official websites:

Following the Government’s very recent amended advice, most staff will continue to work from home for the foreseeable future. We continue to urge our service users and our staff to keep up to date with government advice around best hygiene practices and to follow any other guidance that is issued from key agencies such as Public Health England and the NHS.

A small number of Business Administrators have returned to Head Office to ensure continuity of business processes, that are not able to be completed whilst working from home. A full risk assessment has been carried out and a safe working environment has been created, with access to sufficient PPE, training and cleaning provisions, whilst maintaining safe distances in line with Government and HSE Guidelines.

As a key component of the supply chain to key workers, VSS must maintain its ability to service and supply fully trained Forklift Truck operators to our Employer Clients. Within this past 2 weeks we have seen higher demand for Forklift Truck operators from our clients, so that they can maintain their operational capability.

It is therefore intended that we will be re-opening our FLT centres in Croydon (London), Oldbury (West Midlands) & Bootle (Merseyside) from Friday 22nd May, so that small numbers of learners can undertake Forklift Truck training and secure these ‘key worker’ vacancies. We will be following Government and HSE Guidelines when re-opening these centres, and we will be implementing the same regimes and PPE fulfilment as we have done at Head Office.

In order to protect learners and staff who will be attending our Forklift Truck training centres for practical delivery, we have reduced group sizes to (instructor) 1:2 (learner) ratio and increased our cleaning regimes throughout these centres. However, to further protect our learners and staff, learners will be required to complete a Health Assessment Questionnaire prior to attending our training facilities.

As part of this health assessment questionnaire, we will asking if learners have any underlying health issues e.g. they are vulnerable, or if they are in close contact externally with vulnerable people. If they are, they will be asked to continue with their programme of learning remotely in order to protect themselves and/or others.

Our number one priority is the safety of our service users and our staff, which is why we have adapted to the changing position by implementing the above changes, whilst at the same time ensuring we can continue to deliver our much needed educational and recruitment offerings to our service users and employer clients, during what continue to be very challenging times.

The business has a duty of care for the well-being of our employees and we are tracking anyone who is self-isolating because they have symptoms, as opposed to those who are working at home as a precaution in line with the government guidance. Anyone who is self-isolating and has symptoms, has a family member with symptoms, has come into contact with someone that has symptoms, or has been diagnosed as having Covid-19, are being instructed to notify VSS Human Resources ASAP, so that it can be recorded, and they can be referred to the NHS 111 website for the latest advice. We feel this action will help to minimise and mitigate the risk of passing the infection to others.

To ensure our safe working plans are robust and meet HSE Guidelines;

  • We have carried out a COVID-19 risk assessment and shared the results with the people who work at VSS
  • We have cleaning, handwashing and hygiene procedures in line with guidance at all open locations
  • We have taken all reasonable steps to help the majority of our employees work from home
  • We have taken all reasonable steps to maintain a 2m distance in the workplace
  • Where people cannot be 2m apart, we have done everything practical to manage transmission risk

Given the above Work from Home policy, and the implementation of robust processes for those working within Head Office and our FLT Centres; Senior Management consider the risk of VSS employees and/or our service users contracting COVID-19 in our workplaces as being LOW RISK.

As you will be aware, this continues to be a fast-moving situation and we will keep you updated as and when our position changes. We are continuing to monitor events and listening to government guidance to see what further adjustments may be needed, and we will provide further information as and when required. However, in the meantime, if you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our Leadership and Management Team on 0161 478 4242 or email covid-19@vocationalsolutions.co.uk

Take care of yourselves, and each other.

Phil Juniper – MD