The below frequently asked questions were provided by JobsPlus during a webinar entitled Training & Employment Scheme held on 21 May 2020.
1. What is the Investing in Skills Scheme?
The Investing in Skills (IIS) Scheme is a funding scheme managed by Jobplus. It promotes the training of persons actively participating in the Maltese Labour Market, with the aim to increase productivity and enhance adaptability.
2. Who is eligible to apply for the Investing in Skills Scheme?
Eligible applicants cover all Employers having an economic activity irrespective of their legal form. These include partnerships, companies, family businesses, associations, individual self-employed or other body of persons, NGOs and Social Partners. NGOs and Social Partners not having an economic activity are also eligible to benefit from the scheme.
The trainee needs to be formally employed with the beneficiary during the training period. Furthermore, in the case of employers having an economic activity irrespective of their legal form:
a) Falls within the definition of an undertaking
b) Aid cannot be granted to any Undertaking found to be in difficulty.
Jobsplus will conduct checks to ensure that every applicant Undertaking is financially sound. In line with the amendments to the GBER introduced through Commission Regulation (EU) 2020/972 of 2 July 2020 amending Regulation (EU) No 1407/2013 as regards its prolongation and amending Regulation (EU) No 651/2014 as regards its prolongation and relevant adjustments, it is possible for aid to be granted to undertakings which were not in difficulty on 31 December 2019 but became undertakings in difficulty in the period from 1 January 2020 to 30 June 2021.
3. Which training programmes are eligible?
There is no specific list of eligible training programmes. However, aid shall not be granted for training which Employers carry out to comply with National Mandatory Standards on training (in other words, it must be voluntary training as opposed to legally enforced training). Furthermore, Information Sessions and Team Building events are not eligible under Investing in Skills since these are not considered as training.
4. What is the aid intensity?
Training Aid Intensity refers to the aid amount expressed as a percentage of the training programme’s eligible costs. The proportion will vary according to the size of the undertaking (Large, Medium, Small or Micro) as indicated below. The Co-financing rate will be applied on the total eligible cost. The size of an undertaking determines the level of assistance which is established by staff headcount and financial thresholds as explained below:
Eligible Costs include:
(a) Trainer/s personnel costs, for the hours during which the trainers participate in the training;
(b) Trainers’ and trainees’ operating costs directly related to the training project such as travel expenses; and
(c) Trainees’ personnel costs for the hours during which the trainees participate in the training.
5. A new call with more advantageous rates has been launched on the 8th February 2021. I had applied for funding before this date. Can I benefit from the new rates and terms and conditions too?
No, only applications submitted on the 8th February 2021 onwards can benefit from the new rates and enhancements stipulated in Version 6 of the IIS Guidance Notes.
6. Under no circumstances can the IB reimburse more than 15 trainees for the same training under IIS, irrespective if these claims derive from separate and unrelated Beneficiaries. How are grants pro-rated when more than 15 trainees from different beneficiaries apply for funding?
The total number of trainees is taken into consideration and the percentage pro-ration is derived by calculating the percentage required for one trainee (100% divided by the number of final trainees). The result is than multiplied by fifteen trainees. This percentage pro-ration is then applied to the 100% of each cost component, prior to the application of the applicable co-financing rate. The below is an example of such a pro-ration.
17 trainees = 100%, Therefore 15 trainees = 88.24%
*the percentage pro-ration is derived by calculating the percentage required for one trainee (100% divided by the number of final trainees). The result is than multiplied by fifteen trainees.
The above pro-ration does not apply to air travel.
7. Our training programme is an online/distance learning course, how do I fill in the training schedule with regards to Venue?
In the case of online/distance learning, the link to the course MUST be provided for each and every session. This will enable Jobsplus Monitoring Officers to conduct their unannounced visits in the same manner as they conducted visits related to classroom style training.
8. Where can I find the application form?
The Applicant shall fill in and submit the latest available Investing in Skills Application Form found on the Jobsplus https://jobsplus.gov.mt/iis complete with all relevant details, including relevant supporting documentation, as applicable.
9. When is the deadline is apply for the scheme?
The scheme is open and ongoing. Should funds still be available, the last date of submission of applications is the 23rd June 2023. Training must be completed by 30th June 2023.
Preferably complete applications must be received by the Investing in Skills Unit at least twenty-one calendar days before the start date of training but not later than seven (7) calendar days before the start of the training. Applications submitted in less than seven (7) calendar days before the start of the training will not be approved.
10. How do I fill in the Template B Attendance sheet for Online/Distance Learning?
The Beneficiary is to insert the following details and forward to the training provider:
1. Beneficiary Name
2. Course Title
3. IIS Grant Agreement Number
4. Name Surname and ID Card Numbers of the Trainees
The training provider then needs to fill in the dates, times and breaks and confirm attendance of trainees by inserting YES or NO. Any attendance left blank will be deemed to be an indication of the trainee’s absence. The training provider should also insert their name surname and identification number and sign the attendance sheet for each and every session.
Should trainees arrive late or leave early for a session, this is to be clearly documented on the attendance sheet and endorsed by the trainer.
Finally, when the training is over, the contact person or delegated person, acting in their capacity as the entity’s Legal Representative need to certify that the details in the Template B Attendance sheet are correct and true.
11. Is it possible to submit my unsigned application/reimbursement documentation on [email protected] ? Also, since I am working remotely, I have no access to a scanner, would mobile photos be accepted?
Yes, it is. However, the email together with the supporting documentation MUST be sent by the contact person or delegated persons. If this is not possible, then the contact and or delegated persons MUST be cc’d in the correspondence.
Although we recommend the use of a mobile app that can replace a scanner, we will accept photos taken by mobiles as long as they are clear and legible.
12. I had applied for classroom/contact training, however due to restrictions by the Health Authorities, this was converted to online/distance learning following approval by Jobsplus. I was also asked to take screenshots of the ongoing training. How many screenshots am I obliged to present at reimbursement stage?
A minimum of four screenshots per grant is acceptable. Such screenshots should preferably include timings and trainees. However, we reserve the right to request further clarifications should the need arise.
13. Training was re-scheduled/postponed, what should we do?
Section 3.4 of the IIS Guidance Notes is clear about this: ‘No amendments or variations to the terms of the Grant Agreement and training schedule will be effective unless agreed to in writing by the IB.
Such requests are to be accompanied by a justification note stating the reason for the change. Notwithstanding this provision, should the reason for the delay or change be unacceptable, the IB reserves the right to refuse payment of the grant amount to the Beneficiary. Requests for changes in external training providers or training programmes will not be entertained. In such cases, new applications that abide by the conditions in Section 3 of these Guidance Notes should be submitted.’
14. We are benefiting from other EU Funded Schemes; can we benefit from the Investing in Skills Scheme?
Funding/reimbursement of eligible cost for the same training programme, for the same employees, from any other sources or even from IIS is strictly prohibited. Accordingly, should the Beneficiary, in any way, gain financially from any National scheme, COVID-19 response measures or EU funded Aid scheme for the same cost component, funding for such cost will be ineligible. Any trainees wage costs financed through the COVID Wage supplement will be deducted from the claim for reimbursement.
15. What documents could Monitoring Officers request during a visit (On-The-Spot Check)?
In case of direct contact training, the Monitoring Officers will ask the participant/s and the trainer/s to take photographic evidence of the training.
Furthermore, they may request the following documentation:
- Copies of the attendance sheet/s which is/are issued by Jobsplus and have all Compulsory Publicity Features.
- Copies of any training material used during the training.
The above list is not exhaustive and the IB may request additional checks on a case by case basis. On the other hand, with regards to online training courses, the employer will be obliged to send us the link of the course and the training schedule prior to the commencement of the training. Jobsplus reserves the right to participate in the training session as observer and take screen shots of the participants receiving training.
Furthermore, the Monitoring Officer may request other supporting documentation such as:
- Online attendance report prepared by the training service provider and endorsed by the legal representative.
- Screenshots of telecommunications applications (such as Skype, WhatsApp and FaceTime) which confirm that there was communication between both parties, when the latter occurred and how much they lasted;
- Recordings of the entire lessons;
- Copies of any training material used during the training;
- Copies of any trainee assessment submitted online at the end of the course (if applicable).
The above list is not exhaustive and the IB may request additional checks on a case by case basis. Notwithstanding the type of training being delivered, Jobsplus reserves the right to ask during an On-The-Spot Check one of the participants to participate in a short interview to ensure that the latter is aware that the training is co-financed by ESF Funds. This interview also affirms that the participant is following / followed the same training programme that was approved for funding as per Grant Agreement.
16. Whom can I contact to obtain more information?
One can contact the IIS Unit on 2220 1300 or email [email protected]