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Published: 2nd December 2022

Apprenticeship Off-the-job Guidance- Blog 2

The Department of Education has updated its ‘off-the-job training guidance’. In this 2 part blog series, Rachel Roby, Cogent’s Strategic Apprenticeship Lead, breaks down the key changes and what they mean for employers.
Employ an Apprentice

This blog will focus on the delivery, documentation, and evidence of off-the-job training within apprenticeships.

Documenting off-the-job training

Documenting off-the-job training is important because there must be a shared understanding of the volume and content of training that is going to be delivered.

As stated in the funding rules the number of planned hours, for the full apprenticeship must be documented on:

  • the apprenticeship agreement and the training plan (these must be separate documents).
  • the individualised learner record (ILR). You must not change the planned off-the-job training hours figure once submitted (except for a data input error at the beginning of the programme).

The Apprenticeship Agreement

The apprenticeship agreement, introduced through the Apprenticeship, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009 is completed and signed by the apprentice and employer and forms parts of the employment arrangements between the two parties.

Find the Apprenticeship Agreement here

The Training Plan

The training plan sets out the training to be delivered and the commitment of all three parties. Training plans must be kept up to date and signed off by all 3 parties every time a change is made.

A template of the training plan can be found here.

The Individualised Learning Record (ILR)

The ILR is an on-going collection of data about learners from training providers in the Further Education (FE) and Skills sector in England.

Training providers collect the information about each of their learners and input to the ILR. The agreed training hours must be input into the ILR at the beginning of the. When a learner completes their programme, the actual delivered hours must be documented as well as the planned hours.

Delivering off-the-job training

The delivery of off-the-job training is flexible in relation to:

  • When and where it happens
  • How it is delivered
  • Who delivers it.

All three parties should be involved in the planning of off-the-job training.

When should off-the-job training take place?

The apprentice must be involved in active learning (off-the-job training or English and maths training) throughout the apprenticeship.

Training can still be front-loaded at the beginning of the apprenticeship, delivered in ‘blocks’, or delivered around employer peak periods, provided there is some planned learning activity every 4 weeks.

What is active learning?

An apprentice is either active or inactive in their apprenticeship. If there is a plan for an apprentice to be inactive for more than 4 weeks, they must be put on a ‘break in learning’. The purpose of requiring active learning is to keep the apprentice engaged in their programme.

There is no set time outlined for what active learning means every 4 weeks. It does not need to be face-to-face delivery but it must meet the definition of off-the-job training.

The only exception to this rule is if the learner is on a term-time contract. If there is no training planned during the 6-week summer holiday this is authorised.

Delivery Models Training providers have vast experience of delivering apprenticeships with differing models. Some examples are outlined below:

Delivery model 1: regular delivery (e.g. one day per week)

This is where the apprentice attends off-the-job training on a regular basis, usually one day per week. This model is probably the most common way of delivering an apprenticeship.

Benefits include: –

  • Regular, structured training that can be well-planned in advance.
  • The ability for the apprentice to bring back new learning, on a piecemeal basis and apply this within the business.
  • The apprentice can balance their time between their productive day job and their off-the-job training.

Delivery model 2: block release / concentrated delivery

This is where the apprentice may attend off-the-job training on a concentrated basis (e.g. one week out of every four weeks). This will suit some businesses more than others.

Benefits include: –

  • Concentrated bursts of learning mixed with concentrated periods where the apprentice is available full time in the workplace.
  • Can be well-planned in advance.

Delivery model 3: front loaded model

This is an extension of the block release model, but with a higher proportion of off-the-job training concentrated, usually full time, in the first few months of the apprenticeship. Training is then tapered off from this point, towards the end, with minimal delivery every 4 weeks. This suits some businesses and sectors more than others (e.g. engineering, construction and health and social care).

Benefits include: –

  • Lessens the time that the apprentice is out of the workplace later in the programme.
  • Allows apprentices to ‘hit the ground running’ and gives employers access to the skills they need earlier on in the apprenticeship.

Delivery model 4: mixed model

This is where the apprentice’s off-the-job training plan varies throughout their apprenticeship. In some weeks there may be more training and in some weeks there may be less training (or no training). This model may suit businesses with significant peak periods, such as retail employers experiencing a peak over the Christmas period where productive work may take priority over off-the-job training.

Benefits include: –

  • Flexibility to develop the training plan to suit the needs of the business
  • Allows the apprentice to have a concentrated burst of training to prepare them in readiness for busy periods.

Each apprenticeship standard has a ‘typical duration’, and this can be condensed into a shorter timeframeas long as all parties agree to this and understand the implications of a more concentrated training programme and ensuring that all off-the-job requirements have been met.

Where should off-the-job training take place?

Off-the-job training must be away from the productive job role, but this doesn’t mean it must also be away from the workplace. It is the activity, rather than the location, which determines whether the training meets the definition set out in the apprenticeship funding rules.

How is off-the-job can be delivered?

It is up to the provider and the employer to decide how off-the-job training is delivered and they should take note of the type of activities that can and cannot be included as off-the-job training. Options include: –

• Face to face delivery (e.g. lectures / training sessions)

• Role playing / simulation exercises

• Distance / online learning

• 1:1 shadowing and mentoring

• Industry visits / manufacturer training

• Assignments and projects

It is important to recognise that learners have individual preferred ways of learning so a blend of the above should be incorporated during the programme.

Who should deliver off-the-job training?

In most cases this should be the provider, who are being funded. Providers are responsible for making sure the minimum off-the-job requirements are met and that the training plan is completed. When the initial training plan is prepared, the provider and employer must agree on who will deliver the content.

Other parties can deliver off-the-job training and receive funding to do this but they must be approved via The Register of Apprenticeship Providers. This is carried out through subcontracting arrangements.

Evidencing off-the-job training

Off-the-job training is about both quantity and quality.

It is important to understand from a funding perspective if the quantity of training that has been delivered meets the minimum policy requirement, and whether it meets the terms of the initial agreement

A template to help keep track off-the-job training is available to view here.

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