Festive Office Closure

12th December 2017

The FISSS offices will be closing on Friday 22nd Dec 2017 and reopening on Tuesday 2nd Jan 2018. During this period the MAO system will be available for you to load/amend apprentice records, however we will be unable to provide any additional system support. We will endeavour to resolve any outstanding queries upon our return.

Acceptable Evidence Guidance – 11th December 2017 Update

11th December 2017

In September 2017, we updated the latest version of the Acceptable Evidence Guidance for MAO. Since then we have made the following changes:

Changes to Existing Pages

City & Guilds: we have amended the minimum requirements on the Walled Garden report.

Pearson:  we have added a new certificate to reflect the GCSE English and Maths numeric grading and a Core Skill Confirmation Report and an unacceptable screenshot.

SQA: we have added a SQA Connect Candidate Services printout. and a SQA Connect Core Skills Printout.

If you have any further questions relating to this issue then please contact the MAO Support Team via maonline@fisss.org or by calling 0300 303 4444.

Password Policy

22nd November 2017

On Thurs 7th December 2017, a new password policy will be introduced to the MAO site for all users. In an effort to guarantee that the data held within the MAO database is kept as securely as possible you will be required to change your password.
Your new password should contain the following characteristics:


  • Contain as least 12 alphanumeric characters
  • Contain both upper and lower case letters
  • Contain at least one number (0-9)
  • Contain at least one special character (!,!$%^&*()_+|~-=\`{}[]:”;'<>?,/)

Passwords containing the above characteristics are considered to be strong.


Please read the below sections for further guidance on password creation and best practices –


Password Creation

    1. All passwords should be reasonably complex and difficult for unauthorised people to guess. Users should choose passwords that are at least twelve characters long and contain a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and other special characters.
    2. In addition to these requirements, users should also use common sense when choosing passwords. They must avoid basic combinations that are easy to crack. For example “password”, “password1” and “pa$$w0rd” are all equally bad from a security perspective.
    3. Users should choose unique passwords for all of their system accounts, with meaning only to the user who chooses it.
    4. If the security of a password is in doubt – for example, if it appears that an unauthorised person has logged into the account – the password must be changed immediately
    5. Default passwords-such as those created for new users when they start or those that protect new systems when they are initially set up-must be changed as quickly as possible


Poor or weak passwords have the following characteristics:


    1. Contain less than eight characters
    2. Contain personal information such as birthdates, addresses, phone numbers or names of family members, pets, friends and fantasy characters.
    3. Contain work-related information such as building names, system commands, sites, companies, hardware or software
    4. Contain number patterns such as aaabbb, qwerty, zyxwvuts or 123321


Protecting Passwords


    1. Users should never share their passwords with anyone else in their organisation, including co-workers, managers, admin assistants, IT Staff members etc. Everyone who needs access to the MAO system should be given their own unique password.
    2. Users should never share their passwords with any outside parties, including those claiming to be representatives of a business partner with a legitimate need to access the MAO system.
    3. Users should take steps to avoid phishing scams and other attempts by hackers to steal passwords and other sensitive information.
    4. Users should refrain from writing down passwords and keeping them at their workstations.


If you have any queries relating to this or concerns that your password integrity may be compromised please do not hesitate in contacting the System Support Team or 0300 303 4444.

UKFT Sector Skills Body for the fashion and textile industry

1st November 2017


The UK Fashion & Textile Association (UKFT) is to become the Sector Skills Body for the Fashion & Textiles industry.


UKFT will take over the management of current Apprenticeship frameworks with the responsibility of both registration and certification of Apprentices in England, Scotland and Wales and work with devolved nation’s stakeholders, to ensure that National Occupational Standards and Apprenticeship provision for the sector are maintained and developed.


The transfer of responsibility from Creative Skillset to UKFT goes live on 1st November 2017.


UKFT is the most inclusive British network for fashion and textile companies in the UK. We bring together designers, manufacturers, agents and retailers to promote their businesses and our industry, both in the UK and throughout the world. UKFT is in a unique position, representing businesses from spinning, weaving and knitting, right through to catwalk.


Adam Mansell CEO of UKFT:


“With industry skills and training being a huge part of UKFT’s commitment to the sector, this is very welcome news. We are proud to take over from Creative Skillset, which has supported the industry since 2010 and we thank them for the achievements made during that time. It is extremely important to ensure the management and certification of Apprenticeships and other vocational qualifications is closely aligned to the needs of the industry.”


Mark Froud, Managing Director, Federation for Industry Sector Skills & Standards (FISSS): 


“We look forward to working with UKFT; being close to the Employers is critical and they have their trust and respect. UKFT has a strong approach to ensuring that Apprenticeships and training are kept up to date in what is an increasingly fast paced world.”
Seetha Kumar CEO of Creative Skillset:
“Creative Skillset would like to thank the employers and professionals who have been involved in developing standards and frameworks for Fashion and Textiles over the past 7 years. We wish UKFT the very best of luck as they continue the crucial job of supporting Apprenticeship and vocational training in the Fashion and Textiles sector.”
For further information please contact:
Tamara Rizvi:  tamara.rizvi@ukft.org 0207 843 9460

NI Number Validation

24th October 2017

A new validation for National Insurance (NI) Numbers was introduced into MAO on 24th October 2017. This has been introduced to prevent the increasing number of duplicate NI Numbers appearing on the system. If an apprentice has been entered onto MAO previously, the forename, surname and NI Number fields for any new records will need to match the existing record exactly. If you enter an apprentice and the NI Number matches another record in a different name you will see the following error message.


NI Validation- error message new apprentice


The quickest way to resolve any NI Number errors is to check your own MAO account to see if you have entered the apprentice’s name differently in the past. To search your account you can type the NI Number into the ‘Keyword’ field on MAO. If this does not solve your issue then the System Support Team are on hand to help via the helpdesk. It could be that another training provider has entered the apprentice’s details in a different format for a previous apprenticeship which the System Support Team can help you to resolve.





If we find any major discrepancies between NI Numbers we may ask you to provide evidence of your apprentice’s NI Number or change of name documentation before you can register them on MAO. Examples of acceptable evidence for NI Numbers is as follows:


  • P45 or P60
  • Letter from HM Revenue and customs confirming your National Insurance Number or regarding tax or tax credit.
  • Bank statement showing payments by direct debit for class-2 National Insurance contributions, or benefits payment received showing your NINo on the statement, for example, Incapacity Benefit or State Pension.
  • Payslips, salary statement or works pension statement (as long as it shows your NINo)
  • Letter that the Pension Service or Jobcentre Plus has sent to you (not handwritten)
  • NINo Card (not handwritten)
  • Marriage certificate or Deed Poll (name change)

If you have any further questions in the meantime please do not hesitate to contact the MAO Support Team.




MAOnline Acceptable Evidence Launch

3rd May 2017


This new guide is fully integrated with the MAOnline Website making it easy to navigate and find individual evidence examples. If you require any further information about the new Acceptable Evidence Guidance or you encounter evidence that is not specified and you would like to bring it to our attention for consideration, please contact the MAOnline Support Team.

MA Online System Update 21st November 2016

15th November 2016

On Monday 21st of November, the MA Online system will receive its latest update. We do not anticipate any system downtime during the update, however, you may notice performance issues should you log in between 08:00 and 08:30.  The following new features and improvements will be introduced:


MA Online Summary Report


The MA Online Summary Report is a downloadable PDF that collates all the key information about an Apprentice into a one easy to read document. The report is ideal for printing for your paper records or if you need to quickly review the status of the Apprentice.


You can find the Summary report at the bottom left of the Basic Information tab of every Apprentice record.


MA Online- Summary Report ma_online_summary_report_for news_article


Centre ID


Skills Development Scotland has advised us that they are now requesting MA Online Centre ID numbers for their new FIPS system. This number has always been present in MA Online but has never been visible to Centre users. The centre ID is now visible within Organisation Details which is available to main administrators only. To access your organisation details please login as normal and click the ‘organisation details’ tab at the bottom of the screen.


If you are unsure if you are the main administrator for your MA Online account, please contact the relevant Certification Body.


MA Online- Centre ID


Notifications- Bulk view and select action


We are aware that it can be tricky to keep on top of your MA Online notifications so we have made it easier to view more notifications on screen at any one time. You can now choose to view up to 100 notifications at once and can now select all before completing regular actions such as Mark as Read, Mark as Unread and Delete.


MA Online- Notification for news article


Unique Login Sessions


As part of our routine security updates, you will no longer be able to access MA Online at the same time using the same login across different devices. This means that users who regularly share log-ins will need to ensure they have their own unique log-in for the system.

The main administrator for your account can create additional log-ins for colleagues by accessing MA Online as normal, clicking the users tab at the bottom of the screen and selecting ‘Add User’.


Modern Apprenticeship Contribution rates in Scotland

19th November 2015

Skills Development Scotland (SDS) has recently published the outcome of its review of the contribution paid from public funds towards the cost of training Modern Apprentices. SDS is responsible for the administration of Modern Apprenticeships in Scotland; and this involves setting the appropriate public funding contribution for more than 80 Modern Apprenticeship frameworks. Contribution rates for the next five years have now been set. The results of the consultation can be found at Skills Development Scotland – Modern Apprenticeship Funding Rates.


MA1 – MA2 Migration

12th January 2015

Thank you to all the users who have updated their spreadsheet of MA Online v1 apprentices and returned them to us to be registered on MA Online v2. Over 5500 apprentices have been re-registered and are now ready for certification. If you believe you have returned your spreadsheet but the apprentices have yet to appear on MA online v2 then please contact the MA Online Support Team as soon as possible. If you have received your spreadsheet but do not wish to transfer any apprentices then we would be grateful if you could let us know by replying to the original email or contacting the MA Online Support Team.


Thanks to your efforts we are now able to set a closing date for transferring apprentices over to MA Online v2. In order to have the transfers completed on time, you will need to return your spreadsheet to us no later than 3pm on the 30th of January 2015. If you do not return your spreadsheet to us by this date, you will need to re-enter the apprentices onto MA Online v2 manually.


As always, please contact the System Support Team if you have any queries or can provide any information that make expedite the process.



MAO System Offline 06/01/2015 and 09/01/2015 – 12/01/2015

6th January 2015

Due to unforeseen circumstances, the Federation have been forced to find new hosting suppliers for our Websites and Online Certification Systems (ACE, ACW and MA Online v2). Unfortunately a delay with our new supplier has meant that the www.acecerts.co.uk domain has been placed offline temporarily. We are working to get the system back up and running as quickly as possible however MAO may be offline until 10 a.m. tomorrow morning (7th January). You will not be able to view the MAO website or access the system during this time. We apologise for any inconvenience caused and we will keep you all informed of any developments throughout the day.


Whilst this current downtime was unexpected, we have essential maintenance scheduled to start at 9a.m on Friday 9th January. You will not be able to access www.acecerts.co.uk, www.acwcerts.co.uk and www.modernapprenticeships.org during this period of maintenance. We anticipate that this will be completed by 9a.m. on Monday 12th January and you will be able to access all websites as normal from this time.


We apologise again for the disruption caused by this maintenance and we thank you for your patience. If you have any questions please contact the System Support Team on 0300 303 4444 (option 1, option 1) and maonline@fisss.org.