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Apprenticeships: off-the-job training

How employers and training providers should meet the 20% off-the-job training requirement for apprentices, with some best practice examples. The guide, commitment statement, flowchart, and mythbuster have all been updated today (13 Sept).

An apprenticeship is a job with a formal programme of training. As set out in ‘English Apprenticeships: Our 2020 Vision’, and since underpinned in legislation, off-the-job training is one of the essential components of a quality apprenticeship.

To attract government funding a 20% minimum threshold has been set. This is the minimum amount of time that should be spent on occupational off-the-job training during an apprenticeship. This applies to both apprenticeship frameworks and to apprenticeship standards at all levels.

All apprenticeship standards have been developed under the guidance that they must be sufficiently stretching to require at least one year of full time employment*, with off-the-job training accounting for at least 20% of the apprentice’s normal working hours over this period. By normal working hours we mean paid hours excluding overtime. This direction helps trailblazer groups, who design the new standards, to predict a typical duration for someone who requires the full content of the apprenticeship.

The importance of off-the-job training to a quality apprenticeship was emphasised in the Richard Review of Apprenticeships and more recently in Taking Training Seriously, a report by the Gatsby Foundation which compared English apprenticeships to those in other countries. This report reinforced the need for off-the-job training and concluded that 20% should be the bare minimum if England is to compete with the strongest apprenticeship programmes internationally.

Ofsted and the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) have also highlighted the importance of off-the-job training to a quality apprenticeship in their various publications.

A key element of Ofsted’s inspection regime is a judgement about how well apprentices make progress from their starting points i.e. what an apprentice can do as a result of their training and experience on the apprenticeship programme that they were unable to do before.


*Full time equates to at least 30 hours per week. Where less, the apprenticeship must be extended.


Apprenticeship off-the-job training: policy background and examples

Ref: DFE-00152-2017MS Word Document, 242KB

ESFA Apprenticeship Commitment Statement

MS Excel Spreadsheet, 109KB

Off-the-job training: steps to help you determine whether an activity counts as off-the-job training

PDF, 144KB, 1 page

Off-the-job training mythbusters

PDF, 252KB, 1 page


Guidance for employers and training providers on the off-the-job training requirements involved in an apprenticeship.

Published 26 June 2017 
Last updated 13 September 2019 + show all updates

  1.  We’ve updated the off-the-job materials. The guide, commitment statement, flowchart, and mythbuster have all been updated.
  2.  We have published a revised off-the-job training guide and commitment statement template. We have also added a link to a survey to help us understand the availability of off-the-job training information and how the policy is working in practice.
  3.  Updated the off-the-job guidance attachement – In response to feedback since this document was issued on Friday 22 March 2019, paragraph 69 and Annex A are redacted and under review, in relation to the use of 30 hours. Providers should continue to work to the apprenticeship funding rules and not change any training plans with learners. We will publish a further update next week.
  4.  The off-the-job training guidance document has been updated which provides the policy context and some best-practice examples around off-the-job training. A commitment statement template has been added to this page. The new template has been produced following requests from a number of training providers, particularly those that are new to delivering apprenticeships.
  5.  First published.

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