In 2017, the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) updated their apprenticeship funding rules. One of the biggest changes was that all funded apprenticeships are now legally required to include off-the-job training for a minimum of 20% of the apprentice’s contracted working hours.
Focusing on apprenticeships within the childcare and health and social care industries, we will explore what off-the-job training is, and how employers and training providers can ensure apprentices receive the best off-the-job training as possible.
What is off-the-job training?
What exactly is off-the-job training?
Off-the-job training is learning that is provided outside of the apprentice’s normal day-to-day work, but is directly relevant to their occupational apprenticeship, in this case, the care sector.
It can range from practical, work-based learning to technical or theoretical learning; whichever method is used, though, it is important that off-the-job training provides ‘new knowledge, skills and behaviours’ to upskill the apprentice and their competency in their care field.
When will off-the-job training be carried out?
Off-the-job training must be completed within the apprentice’s contracted working hours, so they shouldn’t be doing this training on their days off or after work.
Apprentices should also receive off-the-job training for a minimum of 20% of the time they are paid to work, i.e if an apprentice is working Monday to Friday, they should have a day a week for off-the-job training.
However, this 20% is flexible. Off-the-job training can be completed one day every week, as part of each day, or grouped together and completed in bulk. The important thing is that off-the-job training must be a minimum of 20% of the apprentice’s contracted work hours.
Where will off-the-job training be carried out?
Off-the-job training doesn’t mean off-site training.
The delivery method of the off-the-job training will impact where the learning will take place. So, yes, off-the-job training can be carried out at external locations, e.g. for conferences, but it can also be delivered at the apprentice’s regular place of work.
How to provide the best off-the-job training
While these changes to the apprenticeship funding rules might be daunting for employers, by ensuring you have a good training provider will support you to organise and complete high quality off-the-job training.
The Apprenticeship Agreement and Commitment Statement
An Apprenticeship Agreement is a document completed and signed by the apprentice and employer that works as a contract of service. It also stipulates the hours that the apprentice will require to complete any off-the-job training, and the employer’s acknowledgement and commitment to provide this training.
Another super important document, is the Commitment Statement. Upon an apprentice’s enrolment, the training provider, employer and apprentice will all agree, record and sign this statement, and it outlines key information about the apprenticeship and how training will be delivered.
It is also a working document, so if there are any changes to the apprentice’s role or their learning, then the agreement should be adjusted as and when the need arises.
Assigning adequate time for off-the-job training
Employers should ensure that they assign adequate time for their apprentices to complete off-the-job training.
Although rotas or working schedules in the care sector are often organised by a ratio system, (e.g. 1 carer per 3 children) employers should remember that off-the-job training is crucial to their apprentice’s learning and development. By investing the time in their training now and providing the best training you can, you will help develop your apprentice in becoming the best employee they can.
Ensuring off-the-job training is the best it can be
Training providers will have a range of delivery styles to suit both employers and apprentices to ensure they receive the best off-the-job training possible.
Employers should discuss and confirm the off-the-job training and methods with their apprentices, which is done at the enrolment stage. This is to make sure that these methods are suitable for the apprentice’s learning style and for the employer to explain the training’s relevance to their care position.
However, as the Commitment Statement is a working document, it can be amended during the apprenticeship, when required, to reflect the current situation.
Recording off-the-job training
The ESFA prefer naturally occurring evidence of training and learning from employers and training providers, rather than lots of documented records. By using a good online training provider, such as Azilo Training, they can help support you and make organising the documentation you need for off-the-job training easy and efficient.
Also, when this information is checked, it is when the training providers are subjected to Ofsted inspections and ESFA audits, instead of the employer.
But you are still responsible, so make sure all of the information is correct!
What are examples of off-the-job training?
As off-the-job training for apprentice’s can be practical, technical or theoretical learning, there are a range of methods and types of training - it just has to be directly relevant to their care field and provide new knowledge, skills or behaviours.
Some examples of off-the-job training for those working in childcare and health and social care include:
- Mentoring, including shadowing colleagues or coaching
- Role play or simulations of workplace scenarios
- Classroom learning, including teaching sessions, lectures, e-learning, webinars or Ted Talks
- Studying sessions for research, completing coursework, projects or assignments
- Completing workplace reflective journals - written or recorded
- Contributing to online forums relevant to their role and occupation
- Attending conferences, industry shows or competing in competitions
- Visiting other departments or businesses
- Completing further training (if relevant to their role), i.e. first aid, manual handling
It is also important to note that off-the-job training CANNOT include:
- Any work towards their Level 2 English and Maths
- as they are both funded separately
- Progress reviews
- as off-the-job training focuses on new knowledge, skills and behaviours
- Training that is irrelevant to the apprenticeship
- as off-the-job training must be relevant to their occupational apprenticeship
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Department for Education. (2017) Off-the-job training: Myth VS Fact. Available from: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/769720/Off-the-job_training_TOP_5_MYTHS.pdf
(2017) Off-the-job training: steps to help you determine whether an activity counts as off-the-job training. Available from: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/769721/Off-the-job_training_FLOWCHART.pdf
(2019) Apprenticeship off-the-job training: Policy background and examples. Available from: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/792228/OTJ_training_guidancev2_reissued_.pdf
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Skills for Care. (2018) Learning technologies in social care: a guide for employers. Available from: https://www.skillsforcare.org.uk/Documents/Learning-and-development/Learning-technologies/Learning-technologies-in-social-care-a-guide-for-employers.pdf
(2019) Off-the-job training and apprentices: All you need to know. Available from: https://www.skillsforcare.org.uk/Documents/Learning-and-development/Apprenticeships/20-off-the-job-training-and-apprenticeships.pdf
(2019) 20% off-the-job training and apprenticeships. Available from: https://www.skillsforcare.org.uk/About/Blog/Article/20-off-the-job-training-and-apprenticeships.aspx