Utilising the 20% Off-The-Job Requirement for Apprentices

Employers and apprentices have had a couple of years now to get used to the 20% off-the-job requirements to receive certain funding. This not-often-explored rule states that every apprentice is required to spend “at least 20% of their time on off-the-job training” and with the current lockdown situation, many employers can take advantage of this time and use it to keep apprentices busy when they can’t be at work or in a traditional training setting.

In the past, there have been concerns over the meanings of terms “their time” and also “off-the-job training”. This has become clearer as “their time” simply means the contracted working hours of the apprentice. They’ve further explained that the 20% off-the-job training refers to the whole apprenticeship, not each year, so an apprentice can split their off-the-job time as they wish across the time period, or as the employer deems fit.

Any employer who seeks funding from the government for their apprenticeship schemes is obliged to provide evidence of the apprentice’s off-the-job training and this could be in the form of any additional training other than English and Maths which are required as a national expectation.

Defining Off-the-Job Training

Off-the-Job training can seem quite a confusing term which is why the SFA have tried to define it clearly for all employers and apprentices. It relates to any training outside of the normal working day-to-day which leads towards the apprenticeship being awarded. It can include training at the place of work of the apprentice but cannot be part of their normal duties. It also cannot include Maths and English to level 2 as required as a basic standard of all apprenticeships. It might include activities such as online learning modules, attending relevant lectures or short courses or carrying out written assessments relevant to the job. It can also include mentoring, industry visits and learning support programmes. It will differ from workplace to workplace and also will be highly dependent on the industry in question.

Off-the-Job Training During Lockdown

The Coronavirus pandemic has led to many current and soon-to-be apprentices finding themselves in limbo. Apprentices are supposed to remain at home during the lockdown period but for many, this means they cannot carry on with their training as it is mainly in a hands-on industry or requires direct face-to-face mentorship. Employers too are worried as the funding they need to retain apprentices and take on new ones may be at risk.

While lockdown due to the global pandemic is hard to see in a positive light, employers can see it as a great way to retain their apprentices and related funding. Apprentices can engage in relevant online learning, off-the-job training and other activities whilst at home and unable to attend the place of work. This allows both employers to meet their requirements for funding and apprentices can remain job-focused and motivated during this difficult lockdown period.

For more information about this change in funding requirements or to look at off-the-job training ideas, you can talk to our team. We also have some handy resources to help our apprentices and employers better understand the off-the-job training requirement, so please get in touch for more information.