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What is 20% off-the-job learning time?

CMS Vocational Training Hadyn Luke posted this on Monday 5th of August 2019 Hadyn Luke 05/08/2019


What is 20% off-the-job learning time?

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:

  1. Is the person signed up to the apprenticeship programme?
  2. Is the activity directly relevant to the apprenticeship?
  3. Is the activity teaching new knowledge, skills and behaviours?
  4. Is 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 release.

What are examples of off-the-job training?

Examples include:

  • Theoretical teaching, for example attending lectures, taking part in training sessions run by manufacturers or following online learning
  • 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 apprenticeship.

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 training?

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 framework
  • 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.

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