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Off-the-job training

Off-the-job training is defined as learning which is undertaken outside of day-to-day work duties and leads towards the achievement of the apprenticeship. This training takes place within the apprentice’s normal (contracted) working hours.

The off-the-job training must be directly relevant to the apprenticeship.

The 20% off-the-job training provides the time to focus and develop the required skills, knowledge and behaviours to achieve the apprenticeship. There are lots of activities that can contribute to off-the-job training. The key thing to remember is that it must be relevant to the apprenticeship.

You can find out more about off-the-job training on GOV.UK

On-the-job training

On-the-job training is training received by the apprentice from their employer. This is to enable them to perform the work for which they have been employed to do.

This training allows the apprentice to carry out their job duties but is not the teaching of the apprenticeship which is carried out by the training provider. 

The learning around the knowledge, skills and behaviour of the apprenticeship is taught by the training provider. These can then be applied on the job.

20% of training is off-the-job, but the apprentice is also doing 80% training on-the-job and there must be coherence between the two to reinforce and embed learning.

Knowledge, skills and behaviours

Knowledge, skills and behaviours form the basis of the apprenticeship’s on-and-off-the-job training. An end-point assessment tests an apprentice’s competency against the knowledge, skills and behaviours.

Knowledge – the information, technical detail someone needs to have and understand. Some knowledge will be occupation-specific, whereas some may be more generic.

Skills – the practical application of knowledge needed to successfully do their duties. They are learnt through on- and/or off-the-job training or experience.

Behaviours – mindsets, attitudes or approaches needed. Whilst these can be innate or instinctive, they can also be learnt. Behaviours tend to be very transferable. They may be more similar across apprenticeships than knowledge and skills. For example, team worker, adaptable and professional.

You can find the knowledge, skills and behaviours for your apprenticeship on our website.

1. Providing high-quality training

Apprenticeships are jobs with training.  Both the employer and training provider need to work together to ensure the apprentice’s experience includes the right kind of training, focussing on the requirements of the apprenticeship and especially its end-point assessment.

It is understood that not all employers see themselves as ‘trainers’. There can be a particular need for training providers to support employers to get the best out of the apprentice’s workplace experience to support the learning outcomes of the apprenticeship.

Whatever the situation, apprenticeship learning is dependent on great training. Everyone needs to work together to ensure this is coherent, well-focused and effective. Successful training ensures an apprentice understands:

  • their learning objectives
  • how they will be assessed
  • what they need to do to improve

At its best, it equips apprentices with the motivation and empowerment to take responsibility for their own learning. Setting them up well for fulfilling careers and the personal tools for life-long professional and personal development. Creating such a training experience requires skill and dedication.

2. Common issues with training

The quality of training varies throughout the apprenticeship sector. In the apprentice panel survey 2020 results showed highlighted several issues apprentices have with their training.

Some apprentices felt that although trainers have relevant industry experience, they lack the required skills to train or monitor their progress or support them. Others felt their trainers have excellent teaching skills but a lack of awareness of the industry or workplace they are providing the training for.

In other cases, apprentices have not had access to all the relevant experience opportunities required to develop their training or meet the on-the-job training requirements. There is also a risk that the training is too specialised and does not provide the apprentice with the transferable skills needed to change industry.

Often, the apprentice has not seen their training plan to understand how on and off-the-job training will be provided. Also, there is not appropriate signposting to find these plans or support tools. Apprentices are often left to fend for themselves and manage the relationship between the employer and provider.

3. 10 ways to improve apprenticeship training

  1. Apprentices should be aware and involved in objective setting for their apprenticeship training. Training providers and employers should understand the apprentice and their learning preferences. Therefore, tailor their training to match the needs of each individual apprentice, taking account of the assessment objectives and grading criteria against which, they will be assessed at EPA.
  2. Employers’ organisational culture should support apprentices and it should be communicated why the apprentice is important to the employer. Employers and training providers should look to their supply chains and communities to engage and support their apprentices
  3. Apprentices should be given the opportunity to engage with communities and professional bodies where appropriate
  4. Apprentices should be given a mentor that could be separate from their line manager, that is structured and encourages the apprentice to challenge themselves and grow.
  5. Apprentices should have equal access to training provider facilities and wider-ranging support
  6. Apprentices should be involved in the review of the support and quality of training provided. Tools should be in place to check employers and training providers are meeting apprentices’ needs and their impact on the business should be measured and celebrated. Apprentices should be encouraged to give feedback and the feedback should be actioned.
  7. Employers should be aware of key apprenticeship milestones and provide appropriate support to help the apprentice plan and prepare for their assessments. Apprentices should feel more empowered as the apprenticeship progresses.
  8. Celebrate success and set ambitious targets for apprentices. This could be on social media, a card, or a mention at a meeting. This isn’t just about celebrating excellent assessment results, but rather is at its most meaningful when focused on specific instances of progress in learning from whatever starting point and to whatever level.
  9. Training providers should give the apprentice opportunities to share their views. And should adapt their training to reflect their needs and concerns. Individual-level feedback from on-programme apprentices should be gathered by their providers to identify any issues and provide immediate support.
  10. Recognise the whole experience is an education and provide extracurricular learning to promote life skills and self-awareness.

4. For employers

Beginning of the apprenticeship

During the induction process, a resource should be provided that signposts where the apprentice can find their apprenticeship and end-point assessment criteria. It is also important to ensure difference between on- and off-the-job training is fully explained. 

Also, outline the overall apprenticeship journey and the key themes the apprentice will learn. If there are any experience gaps that cannot be provided you as the employer, this should be highlighted to the training provider. This will help find the apprentice opportunities for exposure to help gain those skills.

If the apprentice is upskilling and not a new starter, ensure correct support is in place to help accommodate for time allocated to training. And is explained to others in the organisation. 

To help people who work with the apprentice, training sessions or information understand what it means to have an apprentice in your organisation. This helps colleagues protect and recognise why an apprentice is away from the workplace for training days. The apprentice should also be supported to work from home or have access to their coursework if their learning requirements are independent so that they can focus solely on their off-the-job training.

During the apprenticeship

Training quality is improved when the employer and training provider are speaking to one and other to manage sequencing and planning for learning outcomes. Good attendance, punctual submission of work, full engagement with tasks and feedback should be acknowledged and celebrated. You can find out more about this in our three/four-way partnership section.

Off-the-job training time should be protected, and the apprentice should ideally be given more if required, remember 20% is a minimum requirement.

Apprentices should have access to training wider than just their job role. For example:

  • giving advice for how to tackle solving common problems
  • managing finance
  • personal organisation
  • wellbeing 

End of the apprenticeship

In the run-up to an assessment, the apprentice should be provided sufficient support and time to prepare for their assessment. You should also support the apprentice if they are struggling to get a date from their end-point assessment organisation.  

You can find out more in our preparation for end-point assessment section.

5. For training providers

Off-the-job training

As the training provider, you should meet with the apprentices line manager to ensure that the off-the-job training aligns. Training plans should link on and off-the-job training.

Off-the-job training time should be protected. You should talk about it in the review meetings with the employer and apprentice. If the apprentice is not receiving time to do their off-the-job training, they should be supported. 

As part of their induction, apprentices should be made aware of how to raise issues with their apprenticeship and the processes both internally and externally.

End-point assessment and feedback

You should be familiar with the end-point assessment and create assignments that are relevant and prepare the apprentice for their end-point assessment.

The apprentice should be provided with assessments that are connected to grading criteria and ensure feedback shows how apprentice can progress.

Feedback should provide clear, specific advice about how the apprentice can improve and focused on what the apprentice needs to do next to make progress.

Employers should have equal access to the apprentice’s grades and feedback from the training provider. Providing feedback on how the apprentice can strive for the next grade boundary and celebrating what they have achieved is also important.

Supporting the apprentice

Encourage relationship building with other apprentices and your course leaders. Apprentices should also be able to access the same levels of supports and communities that are available to full-time further or higher education students. Apprentices should have support, resources and protections that are equal to those of full-time students.  

You should tailor your training approach to meet the learning styles of each apprentice where possible. Some apprentices will require more assistance than others. You could use a learning style self-assessment tool to identify how apprentices best learn.

Where possible, you should visit the workplace to monitor the standard of the working environment and the apprentice’s progress. This is a visible commitment of the training provider to the apprentices training. 

Training providers and Local Enterprise Partnerships should establish networks to encourage knowledge sharing and support between industries. This should enable the ability to access external sector expertise to advise and support the design and delivery of the training. ​This could include visits to other workplaces to give exposure to how other organisations work. 

6. For apprentices

You should receive a minimum of 20% off-the-job training. Off the job training can vary from block release to a day a week and many more variations. You are not expected to complete your apprenticeship training in your own time.

During your apprenticeship, you should be honest if you need additional support with your English, maths or IT. Your training provider should help and support you. If you have any learning requirements, you should tell your employer and training provider. Reasonable adjustment can be made for you to help you along your apprenticeship journey.

If you feel there are gaps in your training, you should raise this with either your training provider or employer.

All of your training is about making sure you are competent in your occupation. Your end-point assessment is to test you on all the knowledge, skills and behaviours you have learnt during your apprenticeship training. You can find out more in our end-point assessment preparation section.

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