The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) funding rules describe that ‘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.’
It is learning which is undertaken outside of the normal day-to-day working routine and contributes to the achievement of an apprenticeship. It can be delivered at the apprentice’s normal place of work or off-site.
Asset Training will work with an employer to ensure the off the job training programme is bespoke to their business and will map the OTJ training to meet both the learner and employers needs whilst also ensuring compliance with the guidance.
Off the job training includes ‘the teaching of theory (for example, lectures, role playing, simulation exercises, online learning, and manufacturer training), practical training, shadowing, mentoring, industry visits, and attendance at competitions, learning support and time spent writing assessments/assignments.’
How is the 20% Rule Checked and Enforced?
Organisations on the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers (RoATP) are regularly checked and audited by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) to ensure they’re operating within the funding rules.
These audits test a percentage of randomly selected learners and if concerns are raised with these learners, then the audit sample may be extended with more learners being requested. Where the provider is unable to supply evidence which meets the guidance then they may face a financial penalty.
On top of the threat of financial impact from the ESFA the rule is also identified as a vital feature of a quality apprenticeship by Ofsted, so if providers don’t get it right it will affect their overall grade.
Will All the 20% be Satisfied by Time with the Provider?
Different employers and learners require different models, and we would respond to that need, but in most cases it will be a mixture of time committed by the provider and the employer. The main thing to remember is that it needs to be tasks or activities that are outside of the apprentice’s normal working duties and it needs to be recorded and auditable.
An example of how the employer could provide off the job training is through shadowing. If the apprentice was to shadow another team member to learn new skills that contribute to the apprenticeship then this could be recorded as part of the 20%.
Firstly, Asset would need to understand and establish what training, mentoring or development is taking place within your organisation to identify what may constitute off the job training – most employers are doing much more than they initially realise!
Can Distance Learning Be Used to Satisfy the Rule?
Distance and online learning are effective learning methods as they deliver bite-sized modules and information to individuals as and when they need them. This type of learning would be part of a blended learning package (one of multiple methods of delivery). The rules don’t permit for all off the job training to be delivered through distance learning but do acknowledge they have their place to deliver some.
What isn’t Included as 20%? Are There any Circumstances Where it can be Included?
Induction – but by incorporating educational aspects (e.g. learning to use a core piece of equipment) induction can be mapped as part of 20% off the job.
English and maths – but by consolidating knowledge of functional skills as part of off the job training, some aspects of English and maths can be mapped as part of 20% off the job.
Assessment – but by including the teaching of new knowledge, skills and behaviours assessment activity can be mapped as 20% off the job.
Progress reviews – but by including the teaching of new knowledge, skills and behaviours progress reviews can be mapped to 20% off the job e.g. reflective thinking.
Training outside of work hours – unless this time is recognised in an appropriate way.
What if My Apprentice Studies Outside of Work Hours? Does this Count as Off the Job Training?
The ESFA funding rules state that ‘if planned off-the-job training is unable to take place as scheduled, you and the main provider must ensure this is re-arranged so that the full complement of training set out in the commitment statement can still be delivered. All off-the-job training must take place during paid hours.’
Although apprentices may choose to spend additional time on training outside their paid hours, this must not be included in the 20% calculation.
However, this type of study can be included as off the job if the training is recognised in some way i.e. time off in lieu is awarded for the time spent studying outside of work hours. Any circumstances such as this can be discussed with your learning facilitator.
If you would like further guidance on off the job training. There are a number of downloads below which offer employers and learners further information.