Why “off-the-job” Should Really be “on-the-job” and What Does it Really Mean for the Employer?

Posted by: Mia Lewis Post Date: 28th September 2018

Since the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy one area, without exception, that has been a major concern for almost all employers, is around understanding what they can count as ‘off-the-job’ (OTJ) training and how they ensure they achieve the 20% target, says Babington CEO, Carole Carson.

This was the feedback from the ‘Apprenticeships: Driving Growth Through Diversity’ event that Babington and Grant Thornton co-hosted at the Imperial War Museum recently.


The event debated and discussed the importance of apprenticeships to the UK’s future and how they are essential for driving both business productivity and social mobility.

If the OTJ rule was causing some of the UK’s most high profile, development-led companies concern, then the bigger question is ‘what about the 1,000’s of smaller businesses – what hope do they have of understanding the 20% rule and how it impacts them? And more so, is this such a concern that it will put off companies employing an apprentice at all??

The Government explains the 20% off-the-job 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. The off-the-job training must be directly relevant to the apprenticeship framework or standard.

As a training provider, we have a responsibility to ensure that the employers we work with, have a clear understanding of what OTJ training actually means in practice. What do they need to do to meet the required standards for their apprentice to pass their qualification?

Many of our employers approach the OTJ training in different ways. We have some employers that have a very structured approach to the off-the-job learning by allocating four days a month to complete the 20% required – these days can cover internal development, 1-2-1s with managers and project work, for example.

Some of our smaller employers take a very different approach and ask their apprentice to record any OTJ activities as and when they complete them; this would include any training or new learning that the apprentice takes on. Most of this can be included as OTJ as the apprentice (particularly the younger learners) are learning everything from scratch. That goes from learning how to schedule social media posts, for example, to setting up virtual meetings.

Being creative with time management can also be key – employers can allow apprentices to attend an evening course and this counts towards the 20% – but time must be given in lieu for any training outside of standard working hours.

It’s important that employers understand that as long as the 20% is reached by the end of the programme, and that development plans show this, it does not have to be every week it can be to suit your own business needs.

Here at Babington, we believe that OTJ learning enhances the experience of the apprenticeship for the learner, and we work very closely with our employers to ensure that OTJ learning minimises the disruption to your day-to-day business requirements. If you would like to find out more on how Babington can support you, give us a call, we’ll be happy to help!

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