20 surprising things that count as 20% off-the-job training

There have been some teething problems with the rolling out of the apprenticeship scheme

Chief among these is the confusion surrounding the requirement that learners must spend 20% of their contracted work time completing “off-the-job training”.

In a piece on their website, the BBC incorrectly stated that off-the-job training(OTJ) can’t be completed at the employee’s usual place of work, so it’s clear that there’s still a lot of widespread confusion surrounding the terms.

Ultimately OTJ training is an opportunity to grow talent with skills that are tailored to your business needs. The 20% rule doesn’t have to mean losing your apprentice for a certain number of hours per week, rather it means they get time set aside every week to develop.

And if you make sure they spend that time wisely it will bring your business real benefits in the long term – if you’re a bit geeky like me you might even call it the L&D manifestation of the Pareto principle!

Factor sparsity aside, Training Providers are used to designing apprenticeship programmes for loads of different clients and making sure the 20% works for them.

For that reason, here are 20 things that count as 20% off-the-job learning for your apprentice that might surprise you:

  1. Participating in online forums relevant to their role and your industry.
  2. Individual study time – whether it’s to complete coursework or review modules.
  3. Being mentored e.g. by a more senior colleague doing a job your apprentice would one day like to do.
  4. Delivering a mentoring session – something many of our more senior leadership and management apprentices often do.
  5. Completing workplace reflection diaries. We find these are a great way to embed learning!
  6.  Work shadowing with a colleague/mentor – then writing a reflection and lessons learnt report.
  7.  Group Learning Conferences – these can be a great way for your apprentice to learn new skills and ways of working from their peers.
  8. Research tasks e.g. to gain new knowledge of your industry.
  9. Face-to-face tutor led delivery/coaching sessions.
  10. Internal learning and development programmes related to their apprenticeship.
  11. Completion of e-learning – this is another great way we get ideas across to your apprentice in a way that fits around their job.
  12.  Completing project work for their apprenticeship.
  13.  Preparation for assessments.
  14. Role-plays or simulations of workplace situations. We find these really help to embed new knowledge and skills!
  15. Visits to other businesses, or different business units to see how these works.
  16. Attendance at competitions, provided its work-relevant and helping their development of course!
  17. Attendance at industry shows, particularly where they might be able to watch presentations or seminars relevant to their role and industry.
  18. Workplace 1-2-1 performance reviews, conducted by their line manager.
  19. Training sessions e.g. manual handling or first aid.
  20. Attending webinars on hot topics in your industry.

While this is the first-time employers are asked to formally demonstrate that their student is sufficiently involved in off-the-job training, the actual concept is nothing new, as most employers are probably already covering this as part of their normal training process.

Any trainee, or new employee, would be required to spend time learning new systems, visiting external clients or shadowing existing colleagues.

The reality of the OTJ training is that it really doesn’t affect the everyday working day of your employee. It’s all self-assessment as well and you will not be audited from any external body. You can also stack the hours to act towards the final total.

Article by Tina Kapadia

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