Anyone doing Apprenticeship-based training will spend at least 20% of their time on Off The Job (OTJ) training. Apprentices don’t need to be called away from their job one day a week - in fact, they don't even need to leave the office...
Off-the-job training refers to any activity relevant to the job but not covered by day-to-day tasks. Department of Education (DoE) guidelines on Off The Job training state 'It is the activity, rather than the location that determines whether the training meets the funding rules definition'
The ESFA sets out that the definition is as follows:
“Off-the-job training is training received by the apprentice, during the apprentice’s paid hours, for the purpose of achieving their apprenticeship. “It is not training delivered for the sole purpose of enabling the apprentice to perform the work for which they have been employed. “Off-the-job training is a statutory requirement for an English apprenticeship. “Off-the-job training must be directly relevant to the apprenticeship framework or standard, teaching new knowledge, skills and behaviours required to reach competence in the particular occupation.”
The Apprenticeship funding rules state that off-the-job training can include the following:
- “The teaching of theory (for example: lectures, role playing, simulation exercises, online learning or manufacturer training)
- “Practical training: shadowing, mentoring, industry visits and attendance at competitions,
- “Learning support and time spent writing assessments / assignments.”
Q: Why must all off-the-job training, including where it has been re-arranged, take place during paid hours?
A: An apprenticeship is a work-based programme. The training is required to help the apprentice become fully occupationally competent in the workplace. Therefore, it is reasonable that the apprenticeship should be delivered during the apprentice’s working hours. It is not appropriate, and would be unfair, to expect an apprentice to undertake the apprenticeship in their own time, in addition to their job role. The delivery of the apprenticeship content is flexible. It is up to the employer and the training provider to decide at what point during the apprenticeship the training is best delivered. This could be a proportion every day, one day a week throughout, one week out of every five or some other variation. This will depend on what is best for the organisation and the apprentice.
Q: Does the 20% off-the-job training requirement apply to all levels of apprenticeships?
A: Yes, there is no differential based on the level of the programme. At levels 2, 3 and 4 some employers are arguably more accustomed to a day-release type of model, which equates broadly to the 20% minimum. The eligibility criteria for the apprenticeship programme is the same regardless of level, i.e. that the individual requires significant upskilling to be occupational competent. Therefore the input of training, and how and when it is delivered, is also the same, regardless of the level of apprenticeship.
Q: Has the ESFA considered the financial burden that the 20% off-the-job training policy places on employers?
A: An individual will only be engaged in off-the-job training if they are an apprentice, and they should only be an apprentice if the employer has agreed that they require significant new learning (which meets the minimum threshold) to be able to perform their job effectively. If the individual does not require this level of training and can perform their job adequately without it, then they should not be engaged on an apprenticeship.
For those that are engaged on an Apprenticeship there may be an initial loss of productivity, due to the time the apprentice is engaged in training, but in the long term, the new skills that the person brings back to the workplace, which makes them fully occupationally competent, should compensate for this. An apprenticeship is one of many programmes on the market and a different programme may be a better fit for an individual or their particular employment circumstances, e.g. those that require a smaller amount of training or those where the employer cannot commit to the amount of training time to be delivered within working hours.
Q: How does the minimum off-the-job requirement work with prior learning? If someone has prior learning recognised do they have to do additional training to make up 20% of their time on programme?
A: Apprentices are not expected to do extra (unnecessary) hours, but they still have to do a minimum of 20% off-the-job training. 18 For example, if the apprenticeship requires a level 2 and a level 3 qualification and the individual already had the level 2, then the training provider should recognise this as prior learning. In doing so they are reducing the cost and the duration of the apprenticeship (as the apprentice now only requires the level 3 qualification).
The new (reduced) duration must still meet the minimum training duration threshold of 12 months. Of this new (reduced) duration, 20% of the working hours for this period should be spent on off-the-job training. The apprentice is still doing the minimum 20% off-the-job training (albeit against a reduced timeframe) and their previous learning has also been taken into account.
All FAQs can be found on the Department for Educations 'Off-the-job training: policy background and examples document'.