Learn what counts as, and how to manage, the 20% off-the-job training element of your apprenticeships.

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Meeting the 20% off-the-job training requirements

Apprentices bring with them the latest learning and innovations in their field, combining on-the-job training with time spent in the classroom. 

As part of the new funding rules, all apprenticeship programmes must include 20% off- the- job training. Entering into a partnership with a training partner is critical to ensure the delivery model fits business needs.

The line manager and apprentice can also plan how the 20% is covered at work when the apprentice is not attending a formal training session.

What is the definition of off-the job training?

Off-the-job training is defined as learning which is undertaken outside of the normal day to-day working environment and leads towards the achievement of an 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.

The off-the-job training must be directly relevant to the apprenticeship framework or standard and could 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.

When the off-the-job training should take place?

Apprenticeships must last a minimum of 12 months and involve at least 20% off-the-job training and this is measured over the course of an apprenticeship. It is up to the employer and provider to decide at what point during the apprenticeship the training is best delivered (for example, a proportion of every day, one day a week throughout, one week out of every five, a proportion at the beginning, middle or end).

However, whether the training is delivered in the workplace or off-site, it is important to remember that the apprentice must receive off-the-job training for a minimum of 20% of the time that they are paid to work.

What counts as off-the job training?

An induction does not necessarily count as off-the-job training, unless it includes an educational element that provides some basics of the skills, knowledge and behaviours that are core to the apprenticeship.  

Off-the-job training must teach new knowledge, skills and/or behaviours that will contribute to the successful achievement of an apprenticeship.A progress review where progress is reviewed rather than new learning taking place does not therefore count as off-the-job training.

Training providers must still however monitor the progress of their apprentices and although progress reviews do not count towards the 20% off-the-job minimum requirement, they are fundable as an eligible cost in the funding rules.

Off the job training normally takes place outside of normal work duties. To decide whether a training activity constitutes “off-the-job” training, it may be helpful to consider it in comparison to activities undertaken by other staff that are fully occupationally competent. Training which takes place outside the apprentice’s paid working hours cannot be considered as part of the off-the-job training requirement.  

Distance learning can be used effectively as part of the off-the-job training requirement, when it is used as part of a blended learning package. The funding rules do not permit all off-the-job training to be delivered via distance learning, as it can only be as part of a blended approach. 

Apprenticeships are designed on the basis that an apprentice already has the required levels of English and maths and therefore training for English and maths must be on top of the 20% off-the-job training requirement.  

Each apprentice should have a commitment statement that outlines the programme of training that the apprentice should receive. This statement should set out how the provider intends to fulfil the 20% off-the-job training requirement and this will be need to be evidenced when programmes are subjected to inspection, either by Ofsted or the HEFCE.  

This new guidance represents some important clarifications on apprenticeship delivery and reinforces the importance that both employers and providers fully understand the ramifications of the 20% off-the-job training rules as new programmes are developed and delivered.

More importantly these changes will represent some significant challenges for assessors and quality assurers familiar with previous apprenticeship frameworks and vocational qualifications when it’s likely that in future the expectation will be for more training and teaching rather than just the assessment of competence, knowledge and understanding.