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Off The Job Training Demystified

A recent report by the ESFA and the DfE indicates that the ‘off the job’ training rule is still a big concern employers have when taking on an apprentice.  But it’s not as disruptive or daunting as it first appears. Here’s our five-minute guide to ‘off the job training.’

What is ‘Off The Job’ training?

Apprenticeship funding rules say all apprentices must spend 20% of their contracted working time doing training activities.  So all tpm’s apprenticeship programmes include off the job training activities. It’s essential that this training is separate from the typical day to day tasks apprentices are employed to do. The aim is to make sure that all apprentices receive a varied training experience which is relevant to the Apprenticeship they are doing.

Does that mean I lose my apprentice one day a week?

No. The 20% time allocation is entirely flexible. As long as an apprentice spends 20% of their time doing off-the-job training, it can take place whenever it suits the organisation. So for example, some companies have apprentices doing training one day a week, while others prefer to use a block of time during quieter periods.

Apprentices spending 20% of their time on training doesn’t mean they have to undertake it all out of the workplace. Some activities can take place onsite although many employers find sending apprentices to the tpm training centre once a week works very well. The point it, tpm is incredibly flexible and will always work around your business needs. One of our clients, Joanne Bower, area manager of Daisy Chain Nursery, explains ‘During our busy times tpm are always flexible. For instance, they’ll swap training days to help us. They have worked with us for many years, and they understand the demands of our business.’

Even if the preferred schedule of training is for your apprentices to attend tpm’s training centre once a week, this isn’t “losing” them. It’s developing them, so they come back to the workplace with the skills and attitude to do their jobs properly.

Which activities are suitable for 20% off the job training?

You might find your company already does activities with its employees that are acceptable as off the job training. Here are some activities that count:

  • Inductions
  • Job shadowing or pairing with a workplace mentor
  • Day or block release to a training provider
  • Independent studying of in-house training manuals or instructional videos
  • Roleplay
  • E-learning
  • Industry-related training
  • Industry competitions
  • Industry ceremonies
  • Webinars
  • Talks and lectures

However, there are a few things that won’t count towards the 20%:

  • Training in English and Maths
  • Progress reviews
  • Any training undertaken outside of paid working hours
  • Any training that isn’t relevant to their Apprenticeship.

How do we decide what off the job training activities the apprentice will do?

At the start, a tpm recruitment consultant and personal trainer will draw up a training schedule for the apprentice with you. Together, you will identify different training activities to include. tpm know which activities are acceptable for funding rules and which aren’t, so they will be able to advise on this. Also, your tpm consultant/trainer will schedule the timings for the training to ensure they fit in with the organisation’s work schedules. They’ll also ensure the apprentice has enough training planned in to cover the 20% rule.

How do we prove the apprentice has spent 20% of their time doing off the job training?

tpm has developed a way for apprentices to record and evidence the training activities they have undertaken. It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure the apprentice does the agreed training, but it is the apprentice’s responsibility to record the hours and activities undertaken. tpm has arranged for employers to check this easily at any time that suits them via a secure login. Additionally, tpm tutors regularly monitor what the apprentice has recorded to ensure things are on target and the apprentice is progressing. This way, the 20% requirement is continuously monitored to ensure compliance.

Is this all just more work for employers?

No. tpm have already developed and perfected the process of implementing an apprenticeship programme in an organisation. It’s just a case of tailoring it for your particular workplace. Of course, tpm will work with you to embed this process. All we ask of the employer is that you manage the apprentice as you would manage any member of staff. That is, providing direction and ensuring they are undertaking the agreed training.

Ultimately investing in Apprenticeships means your staff will have skills, standards and behaviours needed to ensure your particular business flourishes. SK Medical’s Practice Manager Kim Buoey believes Apprenticeships are a great way to develop her staff:

Apprenticeships are to be valued. They offer school leavers a real career pathway and employers like us a fantastic staff development tool. If you don’t invest in your employees, then your company is dead.’

How can tpm help employers?

At tpm, we understand that the process of organising training can be daunting. We’re here to help you each step of the way, ensuring your apprentice receives the right amount of the right type of training. To find out more call tpm on 0151 709 6000 or email