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Uncovering the 20% Off-the-job training rule for Apprenticeships

In a recent report by the ESFA and the DFE, it was highlighted that the off-the-job training rule was the principal reason that employers are discouraged to take on Apprentices or invest in Apprenticeships in general. We believe that lack of information surrounding exactly what constitutes off-the-job training is more of an issue than the off-the-job training rule itself, and work with our clients to provide all the information, advice and guidance they need to meet the off-the-job training requirements without disrupting business as usual. This approach also ensures that the Apprentices potential for developing skills, knowledge and behaviours that businesses require today and in the future is maximised.

A bit of background; ESFA funding rules require that any Apprentice on both Apprenticeship frameworks or standards, undertake 20% off-the-job training during their Apprenticeship. Off-the-job training is defined as learning which is undertaken outside of the normal day-to-day working environment with the purpose of ensuring that learners receive a varied training experience. This training can take place at the Apprentice’s normal place of work, or off-site, but must not be delivered as part of their normal working duties.

The history of the off-the-job rule for Apprenticeships 

Whilst this seems like a new rule, it’s not a new requirement as such. There have always been rules in place on the subject, however, this was generally managed through the delivery of the qualifications and were monitored by the set awarding organisations. In 2017, the rule was enforced when the Government introduced governing the management and delivery of off-the-job training through the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA).

What is the definition of off-the-job training?

Off-the-job training is defined as “training received by the Apprentice, during the Apprentice’s regular working 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. It needs to be directly relevant to the Apprenticeship framework or standard, teaching new knowledge, skills and behaviours required to reach competence in the particular occupation.

What can you include as part of off-the-job training?

First of all, let’s consider that your Apprentice(s) may already be undertaking off-the-job training without you being aware that it constitutes as such. If you already have an Apprentice(s) currently or have done previously, they may already be participating in more than the required amount of off-the-job training without realising it.

For example, if your Apprentices are involved in a company induction spanning over several days or possibly weeks (providing the induction has some educational content), job shadowing a colleague, or undertaking day or block-release training off-site as part of their Apprenticeship, these all qualify as off-the-job activities. If you are new to Apprenticeships, we will provide you with guidance to ensure that off-the-job training includes a variety of productive and purposeful activities such as:

  • Induction - procedural training for new role, human resource training, company ways of working, health and safety
  • Work/study for the Apprenticeship - reading and completing workbooks provided by the training provider or employer, watching training videos, desktop reading, research, completion of assignments
  • Training room / lectures - that deliver key aspects of the Apprentice’s training as day, or block-release or in shorter sessions
  • Role-playing - popular training practice in customer service training for the hospitality sector
  • Simulation exercises - such as case studies and management games
  • E-learning, webinars and short courses online to develop the Apprentice’s knowledge and skills
  • Industry related training - for example product training for hairdressers, barbers, beauty therapists, first aid training for social and childcare Apprentices.
  • Shadowing and mentoring - shadowing in any role is highly likely in the early stages of an Apprenticeship
  • Industry visits - visiting partner businesses, suppliers, other organisations relevant to the training
  • Attendance at industry related competitions – awards ceremonies


Calculating the off-the-job training hours

Many employers are under the misconception that off-the-job training has to take up exactly one day a week if the Apprentice is employed for five days per week. This is not the case, if for example a training activity takes 2 to 3 days in a set period intensively than this is considered as a chunk of the off-the-job training. It is up to you and the training provider to decide exactly when the off-the-job training takes place and it can be in small or larger chunks as appropriate to the training programme and the organisation.

As long as it ends up constituting 20% of the total time that the Apprentice is training over the period of the Apprenticeship (e.g. 30 hours per week x 52 weeks x 0.2 = 312 hours off-the-job training per year).

What can’t be used as part of the off-the-job training?

  • Training that is only necessary for the completion of the job and not relevant to the Apprenticeship cannot be included. Areas that are not considered off-the-job training include:
  • English and Maths training, which must be provided in addition to the 20% off-the-job training according to ESFA rules.
  • 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 outside the Apprentice’s paid hours


Paragon Skills custom offer toward your 20% off-the-job training

As a part of Paragon Skills offer to all employer partners, we provide a bespoke support system, delivered with a blended approach. We use a variety of learning methods to enrich learning while helping to reduce operational impact.

In addition to the areas already mentioned, our employer partners are also provided with access to Bud our new LMS, where you will be able to track and monitor all your Apprentices on and off-the-job training and communicate with the Apprentice’s personal tutor regarding any questions or concerns you might have.

The Bud learner management system is a tool that has been commissioned and developed in partnership with Paragon Skills to enable us to provide our employer partners with the highest level of service from sign up to the End-point assessment stage, in addition to providing our learners with an engaging learning experience.

If you would like to receive more advice, guidance and information regarding off-the-job training, please contact us today on 0800 783 2545.