20% off-the-job training
20% off-the-job training is part of every apprenticeship funded by the levy in England. How can you make the most of this for your apprentices and your organisation?
When the apprenticeship levy launched in 2017, employers with an annual pay bill of over £3 million started to pay 0.5% of this into a levy to be used for apprenticeship training. Soon after, the Department of Education stipulated that for apprentices in England at least 20% of this training had to be 'off-the-job'.
It sounded straightforward - but it did take a bit of time to work out exactly what was (and what wasn't) in scope.
Apprenticeships have changed. Put simply, employers with an annual pay bill of over £3 million now pay 0.5% of that into a levy which they can then use to pay for apprenticeship training. The Department of Education describes an apprenticeship as a formal programme of training, and they stipulate that for apprentices in England at least 20% of this training should be 'off-the-job'.
Sounds pretty straightforward, yes? In reality the changes to how apprenticeships are designed, delivered and assessed is more complicated – and the lack of clarity around the requirement for every apprentice to spend 20% of their contracted time on off-the-job training is one we spend a lot of time talking to employers and training providers about.
We’ll be honest about our interest in this. Outward Bound are providers of apprenticeship training – we do experiential learning in the outdoors, developing behaviours and skills that are listed in apprenticeship standards. If you chose to work with us, your apprentices’ time at Outward Bound counts towards their 20% off-the-job training allocation. So if you’re looking for ways to dodge 20% off-the-job training then you’re in the wrong place!
Instead, here’s what we know about 20% off-the-job training and some clever ideas that you might not have thought of…
ESFA apprenticeship funding rules says all new standards must include at least 20% off-the-job training.
Their definition of off-the-job training is ‘learning which is undertaken outside of the normal day to day working environment and leads towards the achievement of an apprenticeship.’
The off-the-job training must be directly relevant to the apprenticeship framework or standard.
Don’t think you can ignore 20% off-the-job training – the ESFA have warned that employers or providers who break the rules could have their ability to use their levy funding removed.
1. 20% off-the-job counts in hours.
The time is calculated in contracted employment hours across their whole apprenticeship. It doesn’t have to be as black and white as six hours a week (working hours are capped at 30 per week for funding purposes). Use the time flexibly – and to your maximum advantage. Eg: a one week residential with Outward Bound could count for 50 hours of training.
2. 20% off-the-job doesn’t have to mean off your campus.
It doesn’t even have to be away from their normal workstation. It is the activity rather than the location that's important. It must teach new knowledge, skills and/or behaviours that will contribute to the successful achievement of an apprenticeship. Be creative with this – as well as allowing time to complete course work, assignments and online learning activities, have you thought about getting your apprentices to work shadow a more experienced colleague and review the learning in their assessment journal or asking your senior leaders to deliver a mentor session?
3. Maximise your investment in 20% off-the-job.
Some people are looking for box ticking options that allow them to keep apprentices doing the day job. But think back to your most impactful training – we bet it wasn’t an online module squeezed into your lunch hour. Take the plunge and give your apprentices the opportunity to get out of their usual surroundings. In the long run it will take less focus away from the day job than you think, will be more memorable and have a greater impact when they get back to their normal routine.
4. What it can’t be. Here are some traps to avoid…
- English and maths training up to level 2 isn't included. If your apprentices need these qualifications you will need to give them additional time to their 20% off-the-job training to do this. Above level 2 does count.
- All off-the-job can’t be delivered via distance learning.
- Onboarding and assessing progress through reviews and testing must happen, but don’t count towards the 20% off-the-job training.
Why use Outward Bound?
- We develop behaviours and skills from the apprenticeship standards in a customised way. Our programmes aren’t ‘off the shelf’ so you can be sure that our programmes will bring added value, accelerating learning and aligning with organisational values.
- An Outward Bound programme could count for up to 50 hours of training towards the 20% off-the-job allocation.
- We get results – improved retention, increased effectiveness, developing behaviours, reducing accidents. Whatever your business need contact us.
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Client story: see why apprenticeship training provider PROCAT (Prospects College of Advanced Technology) chose Outward Bound as their delivery partner for behavioural training.
Gov.uk guidance: the official off-the-job training, policy background and examples can be found here.
Get in touch: Could Outward Bound help you with off-the-job training?
Outward Bound are on the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers. We work with employers and providers to deliver skills and behaviour training.
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