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20% off-the-job training explained

According to the ESFA’s apprenticeships funding rules, all new standards must contain 20% off-the-job training.

20% off-the-job training explained


According to the funding rules from the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), all new standards must contain 20% off-the-job training – that means learning above and beyond a candidate’s normal duties.

Most employers agree that this is a reasonable requirement. But it’s easier said than done to comply with reporting requirements for off-the-job training. And there are serious consequences for getting it wrong. Employers who fall foul of the rules could see their funding clawed back for the current year, and even previous years.  

Read on to find out OneFile’s top tips for avoiding four of the most common pitfalls with off-the-job training:  


1. Get clarity on what off-the-job training really means  

The ESFA defines 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. Training can be delivered at the apprentice's normal place of work but not as part of their normal working duties.'  

So this is all about the apprentice’s personal development – over and above the specific operational  requirements of their role.  


  • Theory – such as lectures, role playing, online learning, simulation exercises or manufacturer training. 
  • Practical training apprentices wouldn't usually do during the week – such as shadowing, mentoring, industry visits or competitions. 
  • Learning support and time spent writing assignments 


  • English and maths (up to level two) which is funded separately 

Training in English and Maths does not count towards the 20% off-the-job training requirement. You will need to assign additional time for apprentices to upskill in these areas – but beware of creating an elitist system that favours more gifted candidates – which goes against the whole ethos of apprenticeships 

  • Progress reviews or on-programme assessments that are required in the apprenticeship standards 
  • Training that takes place outside the apprentice's paid working hours 


2. Get your numbers right - 20% is a large proportion of your working week.  

The 20% off-the-job training is calculated according to  your apprentice's contracted employment hours across their whole programme  – equivalent to around one day per working week. That’s a lot of time for apprentices to spend away from the workplace, and not directly supporting your organisation. This can be an even bigger burden when you use apprenticeships to upskill existing staff, who play a key role in operations. 

It's vital you can prove that investing time and effort into training is worthwhile. And the best way to do that, and comply with rules, is to keep accurate records. 


3. Decide how to schedule off-the-job training  

So, the 20% requirement is clear, but it’s down to you to decide how and when you want off-the-job training to be delivered. It could be for one day a week, for one week out of five, or grouped together at the beginning or end of the apprenticeship.  

Whatever you decide, just make sure you meet the threshold and record evidence that you’ve complied with the 20 per cent off the job training requirement.  


4. Avoid potential punishment for non-compliance  

As an employer, you could lose access to current funding, and have previous awards clawed back if you fail to release apprentices for off-the-job training.  

The ESFA has said 'if employers undertake illegal activity, we could completely remove their ability to use their levy funding. If they break the rules, they lose control.' 

Scary stuff... 

So how can employers plan, track and evidence off-the-job training?  

ONEFILE IS THE SOLUTION FOR SEAMLESS OFF-THE-JOB TRAINING We've developed an off-the-job feature to track and record the 20%. Users just input their learning activity like normal and simply select whether it was completed on or off the job. This data is automatically calculated into a percentage and displayed on the dashboard, so learners can track their progress easily. Employers and tutors can also report on the off-the-job activity to monitor how their apprentices are progressing. 

To see how OneFile's off-the-job feature works, download our free guide

Download guide

This article includes research and opinion sourced by OneFile at the time of publication. Things may have changed since then,
so this research is to be used at the reader's discretion. OneFile is not liable for any action taken based on this research.