Tips for minimising the impact of 20% off-the-job-training on your business

The Education and Skills Funding Agency’s (ESFA) rules for apprenticeship funding require all apprenticeships which started after Monday 1 May 2017 to contain 20% off-the-job training.

Off-the-job training is defined as “learning which is undertaken outside of the normal day-to-day working environment and leads towards the achievement of an apprenticeship.”
(Apprenticeship off-the-job training – Policy background and examples – June 2017 – Department for Education. The report can be read here: Apprenticeship off-the-job training report)

Some employers are finding these rules difficult to understand and implement. We have created a guide to bust some myths and minimise the impact the 20% off-the-job training requirement has on your business.

1. The myth: The training will need to be completed away from the workplace.
This isn’t true, as the training can take place in the workplace. However, the apprentice needs to be undertaking some form of training or development which is relevant to the apprenticeship standard they are completing and not just completing their normal day-to-day duties.

2. The myth: 20% off-the-job training only counts in days.
Many employers think the 20% off-the-job training equates to one day per week. This is a myth as the time is actually calculated on the number of contracted employment hours across the whole apprenticeship.

3. The myth: The training can be completed outside during working hours.
The 20% off-the-job training has to be completed in working hours. We understand this will have an impact on your business, especially if existing employees are using the apprenticeship training to upskill themselves. It maybe helpful for you to consider the following questions:
• Could your business and apprentice benefit by introducing flexible working?
• Would you allow your apprentice to study in the evening and then take time back in lieu at a suitable time to lessen the impact on the business?
• Could you allow your apprentice to study using a day release training model and offer a work placement opportunity to a full-time student? This would help to fill the skills gap and minimise the impact on the business whilst giving someone the opportunity to gain valuable work experience. You never know, you may even find your next apprentice!

Your assessor will work with you to decide on a delivery model which will minimise disruption to your business. We have a flexible approach to our delivery and, where possible, offer block delivery sessions, group sessions or on-site delivery at your premises to minimise the impact on the business.

4. The myth: The apprentice’s induction counts towards the 20% off-the-job training requirement.
The induction does not necessarily count towards the training requirement, for example, it will not count if the apprentice is only picking up their staff badge or having a tour of your company’s premises.

To make the induction count towards the training requirement, the apprentice must receive some form of education. Therefore, could you change your company induction so it includes some training or skills development?

Speak to your assessor about how you can utilise the induction period and make it count towards the training requirement.

5. The myth: Meeting with an assessor to complete progress reviews will count towards the 20% off-the-job training requirement.
This is a myth. Off-the-job training must give new knowledge, skills or behaviours to the apprentice. When the assessor meets with the apprentice to complete a progress review, they are testing the apprentice’s knowledge and understanding, and not learning anything new. Consequently, this cannot count towards the off-the-job training requirement.

6. The myth: English and Maths training counts towards the 20% off-the-job training requirement.
As apprenticeships are designed on the basis that the apprentice already has the required levels of English and Maths. This training must be on top of the 20% off-the-job training requirement.

What learning activities will count towards the 20% off-the-job training requirement?
The following learning activities would count towards the training requirement:
• Allowing the apprentice study time to complete coursework or review modules. This could include:

o Participating in theory-based sessions, such as lectures, face-to-face teaching or coaching sessions.
o Preparation for assessments.
o Participating in online forums relevant to the apprentice’s role or industry.

• Attending and participating in competitions (as long as they are work-related and help the apprentice to develop).

• Attending industry shows, particularly where they might be able to watch presentations or seminars relevant to their role and industry.

• Completing online learning via webinars or blended learning to enhance the apprentice’s knowledge of what’s happening in your industry.

• Completing training and development programmes relating to their apprenticeship. This could include:

o Internal training and development programmes.
o First aid or manual handling courses.
o Practical training sessions on new equipment or technologies.

• Completing work reflection logs.

• Receiving mentoring from a senior colleague. Alternatively, the apprentice could deliver a mentoring session to other employees to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding.

• Participating in role play or simulated exercises is an excellent way to embed new knowledge and skills!

• Shadowing a colleague or mentor. The apprentice could even write a reflection log to demonstrate what they’ve learnt.

• Undertaking a research task to gain new knowledge of the industry.

• Visiting to other internal departments, businesses or suppliers to see how they work.

Our specialist Business Development team and assessors can offer assistance to help you understand 20% off-the-job training requirements and work with you to develop a training model which minimises the impact on your business. For more information or to arrange an appointment call 01226 216 166 or email

Last updated: 30th July 2020