All apprentices have the right to a minimum of 20%
off-the-job learning time, and employers and training providers should ensure
that this requirement is met.
There can, however, be some confusion about what constitutes
as off-the-job training – read on for more information.
What is off-the-job training?
A statutory requirement for apprenticeships in England,
off-the-job training is when an apprentice is taught new knowledge, skills and behaviours
that will help them complete their apprenticeship. Delivery of off-the-job
training should be within the apprentice’s paid hours and must be directly
related to progressing within the apprenticeship framework or standard.
The amount of required off-the-job (OTJ) training should be
set out at the start of the apprenticeship and recorded in the apprenticeship
agreement and the commitment statement.
The full details of what off-the-job training covers can be
found in the governmental OTJ training guidance: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/apprenticeships-off-the-job-training.
This offers four key tests to check whether an activity
constitutes off-the-job training:
the person signed up to the apprenticeship programme?
the activity directly relevant to the apprenticeship?
the activity teaching new knowledge, skills and behaviours?
the learning taking place in the apprentice’s paid working hours?
Where and how is off-the-job training delivered?
This should be decided by the employer and training provider
in partnership and agreed at the start of the apprenticeship.
It can be delivered at the apprentice’s usual place of work
or at an approved outside location, as long as it is relevant to the
apprenticeship. Delivery can be in short bursts, eg allocated time per week at
the place of work, workshops or day release, or over longer periods, eg block
What are examples of off-the-job training?
- Theoretical teaching, for example attending
lectures, taking part in training sessions run by manufacturers or following
- Practical training, such as visiting other
companies, or shadowing or being mentored by an industry specialist
- Being supported in learning or writing
assessments and assignments
It can also cover other areas, such as health and safety
training or employer inductions, but only if the activity imparts new learning
towards achieving the knowledge, skills and behaviours required for the
What about distance learning?
This falls under the banner of off-the-job learning if it
meets the four key tests listed above.
It can be self-directed, where the apprentice is studying
online material in their own time and at a location of their choice, or
interactive, where the learner is supported by the training provider and taught
in a virtual classroom. It should not be solely self-directed as it’s important
for the learner to receive feedback and be assessed.
What does not fall under the definition of off-the-job
The following are not considered off-the-job training:
- Training that is aimed at gaining knowledge,
skills and behaviours that do not fall under the apprenticeship standard or
- Progress reviews or assessments
- Any training occurring outside paid hours
How is the training assessed?
Although the training is not currently specifically monitored
through the individual learner record (ILR), it does form part of the overall
information reviewed by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) as part
of the training assessment.
Sanctions can be carried out for non-compliance, including recovery
of funds. It’s important that employers and training providers monitor the
off-the-job learning completed by an apprentice throughout the apprenticeship.