20% Off the Job Learning: How to Make It Work for your Business

A significant part of the new trailblazer Apprenticeships and probably the most talked about ‘funding rule’ is the 20% ‘off-the-job learning’ requirement.
The ESFA define this as learning which is undertaken outside of the normal day-to-day working environment and leads towards the achievement of an Apprenticeship. This can include training that is delivered at the Apprentice’s normal place of work but must not be delivered as part of their normal working duties, and does not include training which takes place outside the Apprentice’s paid working hours.

This seems pretty simple until you actually work out the numbers.

For example, if an Apprentice is undertaking a 2-year apprenticeship and has an employment contract of 8 hours’ x 5 days’ x 46 weeks’ x 2 years that is a total of 3,680 contracted hours.

20% of this is 736 hours which represents the minimum off-the-job training required (equivalent to one day per working week). The harsh reality for many businesses is the hidden cost of this, particularly if employers are upskilling existing staff and getting their heads around how they can afford valuable employees to be ‘off-the-job’ for 20% of their time.
As a provider involved in the new trailblazer standards from an early entry point, it was critical for us to ensure that the 20% off the job delivered value to the organisation. Rather than looking how the 20% will negatively impact the organisation, our approach is to look at how it can positively impact the organisation immediately.

Rather than looking how the 20% will negatively impact the organisation, our approach is to look at how it can positively impact the organisation immediately.

Whilst the funding rules state that functional skills, progress reviews, on-programme assessments and training that takes place outside of the Apprentice’s paid working hours CANNOT be used towards the 20%; there are an abundance of learning methods and activities that CAN be used to ensure that the programme of learning a) directly meets the requirements of the Standards and b) delivers value to the organisation.

For example, if an Apprentice starts to work more productively, solve problems more effectively, make better decisions, increase staff morale and motivation, deliver better results almost immediately, how can this be a business burden.

So, how is this achieved? Our approach is to review the learning outcomes of each competency/ behaviour that makes up the Standard in turn with the employer and agree how each can be truly aligned to the organisation. Additionally, by exploring how each competency can be measured helps to produce clear and structured briefs for the learning activities that make up the 20%. This essentially is about beginning with the end in mind to ensure that the Apprentice not only a clear context for the competencies and behaviours they will be developing but articulating what success looks like.
An important consideration is to agree which learning activities are more effective in meeting the ‘knowledge’ requirements of the Standard and which are more conducive to meeting the ‘skills/ behaviour requirements of the Standard. This should result in a careful blend of learning that is defined, aligned to the outcomes of the Standard and more importantly quantified. To find out more around how we approach the 20% to ensure ALL activities achieve a positive impact on the business, please get in touch at apprenticeships@adaltadevelopment.co.uk