News team

Annette Allmark, director of strategic policy, People 1st

All apprentices working towards a new apprenticeship standard, must spend at least 20% of their paid employment undertaking ‘off-the-job training’. Whilst this was also the case within the old system, it’s still one of the areas that we most commonly receive questions on and was a hot topic at the recent ABTA Apprenticeships in the Travel Industry Conference. Employers are often concerned about the time this takes an apprentice away from the business, and are uncertain about what activities count and how to evidence the requirement.

So what are the best approaches to building 20% off-the-job training into an apprenticeship programme?

Firstly, it’s important to bear in mind that off-the-job training is a critical component that allows the apprentice to gain knowledge, skills and behaviours to achieve their apprenticeship and carry out their role effectively – which must be good for business! As well as amounting to 20% of the apprentice’s contracted employment hours across the whole apprenticeship, the other key factor to remember is that whilst it must not include the apprentices’ day-today work activity, the training does not have to be carried out away from the employers’ workplace. 

Firstly, it’s important to bear in mind that off-the-job training is a critical component that allows the apprentice to gain knowledge, skills and behaviours to achieve their apprenticeship and carry out their role effectively – which must be good for business! As well as amounting to 20% of the apprentice’s contracted employment hours across the whole apprenticeship, the other key factor to remember is that whilst it must not include the apprentices’ day-today work activity, the training does not have to be carried out away from the employers’ workplace. 

What counts as 20% off-the-job training? What doesn’t count as 20% off-the-job training?
  • The teaching of theory (for example, lectures, role playing, simulation exercises, online learning, manufacturer training)
  • Practical training; shadowing; mentoring; industry visits and attendance at competitions
  • Learning support and time spent writing assessments/assignments
  • Time spent on English and maths, or on training to acquire skills, knowledge and behaviours that are not required in the standard or framework
  • Progress reviews or on-programme assessment required for an apprenticeship framework or standard
  • Training which takes place in addition to the apprentice’s paid working hours. The training can be taken outside of the working day, but time must be given back to the apprentice.

A common misconception around 20% off-the-job training is that classroom based learning is the only option. However, there are plenty of activities that you can build into the programme that are eligible and prepare apprentices for end-point assessment. Some best practice examples include:

Role play: During a role play, the apprentices assume roles and act out situations connected to the learning concepts. The apprentices have to respond quickly to the situation that is ever changing and react to it as they would in the real one. It is a particularly good method for customer service training, enabling apprentices to experience different situations to know how to or improve what they do in real life.

Case studies: This is a written description of an actual situation, which can include those that occurred in the past. The case study is discussed between the apprentice and employer and/or on-programme trainer. It is an ideal method to support decision-making abilities within the constraints of limited data.

Vestibule training: This method is most effective in training technical staff, office staff and employees who deal with tools and machines. Employees learn their jobs on the equipment they will be using, but the training is conducted away from the actual work station. Vestibule training allows employees to get a full feel for doing the task without real world pressures. Additionally, it minimises the problem of transferring learning to the job.

Simulation: Simulation is a useful method of training for situations that are not naturally occurring, or which cannot be observed in real life for example, due to the safety of the apprentice or because of the confidentiality / sensitivity of a situation.

Audio-visual: Providing training by way of using films, televisions, video, and presentations is an efficient way of delivering training, especially for essential information and understanding.

Classroom lectures: This method is effective for training some subjects such as management principles, and provides class-based discussion and debate.

Once you’ve built the 20% off-the-job-training into the programme, how do you ensure you’re prepared for audit?

This is an area that will be audited, but it is not the Education and Skills Funding Agency or Ofsted’s role to catch employers and training providers out. What they do want to know however, is that the investment in apprenticeships is robust. Therefore, as long as there is clear evidence of planning and a holistic programme of training in place, with sufficient elements that are off-the-job, there should be no problem.

There are no official template documents. The employer and provider need to agree, and maintain, accurate records that demonstrate learning that takes place. The records should clearly show:

  • The appropriate amount of time has been spent on the off-the-job training by the apprentice i.e. 20% of contracted hours
  • Appropriate methods have been used for off-the-job training (which are away from the apprentices normal working environment)
  • Appropriate content which is relevant to the knowledge, skills and behaviours within the apprenticeship standard.

For more information on how you can maximise the use of apprenticeships in your business, visit www.people1st.co.uk/apprenticeships