In a survey from the Learning and Work Institute, it found that nearly a third of employers who currently have apprentices, weren’t aware they had to allow their apprentices one in five days to do off-the-job training. Also, 23% didn’t know that this training had to be included in an apprentice’s working hours.
With these figures, it’s clear that employers are confused around exactly what 20% off-the-job training entails and how it should be carried out. The government’s aim to put apprenticeships on an even footing with academic qualifications has resulted in creating the apprenticeship reforms and therefore, providing a much stricter training and assessment regime.
In this guide, we’ll get to the bottom of what’s included in off-the-job training, explore the available guidance on how to carry it out and see how it can work in practice for you and your business.
Why is off-the-job training required?
The apprenticeship reforms seek to address the UK’s productivity deficit by tackling growing skills gaps in its workforce. One key element of this plan is to show apprenticeships as equal to academic qualifications - with the end result achieving a skilled workforce ready for employers to tap into.
Apprenticeship-based training has had relatively low engagement and the reforms are seeking to address this issue - the government are improving the quality and assessment of apprenticeships, as well as getting employers involved in designing new frameworks.
In the English Apprenticeships: Our 2020 Vision document, the government set out the core principles of quality that would guide apprenticeship training, including:
It is a job in a skilled occupation;
It requires substantial and sustained training, lasting a minimum of 12 months and involving at least 20% off-the-job training;
It develops transferable skills, and English and maths, to progress careers;
It leads to full competency and capability in an occupation, demonstrated by the achievement of an apprenticeship standard;
It trains the apprentice to the level required to apply for professional recognition where this exists.
Off-the-job training: What do we know?
In its guidance for employers, the government states:
“Off-the-job training is defined as learning which is undertaken outside of the normal day-today working environment and leads towards the achievement of the apprenticeship. This can include training that is delivered at the apprentice’s normal place of work but must not be delivered as part of their normal working duties.”
This guidance has left some employers wondering if they’re breaking funding rules by delivering certain types of training (e.g. e-learning) at the apprentice’s usual place of work. Off-the-job training doesn’t necessarily mean ‘away from the workplace’ - in some cases it’s possible to carry out training at an apprentice’s workstation.
Off-the-job needs to be directly relevant to the apprenticeship framework or standard and could include the following:
However, it can’t include the following:
Up to level 2 in English and maths
Training that takes place outside the apprentice’s paid working hours
If the apprentice attends a workshop or training session related to their apprenticeship outside of their contracted working hours, that time needs to be given back to the learner in their normal working day.
These new rules are set to prevent apprentices being enrolled on programme of poor quality, where they aren’t permitted learning time away from the workplace - instead being a full-time employee paid a lower wage corresponding to their apprenticeship.
Employers must ensure their apprentices are spending the correct amount of time in off-the-job training. This applies whether they’re on a new-style apprenticeship standard or previous framework.
During off-the-job training, employees must pay their apprentices their regular salary (at least minimum wage), which can’t include any on-programme assessment required within the framework or standard they’re doing.
As explained above, off-the-job training must be carried out within working hours and can’t be considered as ‘homework’ the apprentice can do while off the clock. Traditionally, this has been carried out with the apprentice either spending one day a week (or one week a month) spent at the training provider or a combination of on and off-the-job training with both the provider and employer.
Over to you
We hope we’ve shed some light around off-the-job training so that you can plan ahead and understand what you need to do for the 20% off-the-job requirement.
And if you’re looking for further information about the Apprenticeship Levy, be sure to download our free, comprehensive ebook guide: