20% off the job learning Apprentice Advice
Following on in our regular updates on the levy, many of our clients have asked questions around the requirement for 20% off the job learning:
- What constitutes ‘off the job’?
- How to support off the job learning?
- What are the implications for my organisation?
What constitutes off-the-job?
OK to keep things simple, the starting point of all Apprenticeships is to provide employees with the new skills they need to step up to a new role or position. It stands to reason, that to acquire these new skills, the apprentice will need to be completing tasks or projects which fall outside their usual day to day responsibilities.
So, to answer the question ‘What constitutes off-the-job?’ it means activities or responsibilities which are outside of their normal day-to-day responsibilities.
Mike wants to develop his skills in chairing meetings. In his current role of sales executive, he isn’t required to hold or chair meetings. Any learning Mike undertakes in this area would constitute off-the-job, as it falls outside his normal roles and responsibilities.
That learning could take the form of reading articles about chairing meetings, observing others chair meetings, watching a podcast on the subject, or also having direct experience of chairing meetings. All of these activities would fall under the definition of ‘off-the-job’. So provided this learning is documented, it counts towards the requirement for the apprenticeship.
How can an organisation support off the job learning?
The closer the support the organisation can provide to the apprentice, the better. Line manager support has been a consistent factor in the successful development of apprentices. Support comes in many forms, but the most productive seem to be: providing time, facilitating access to resources and giving advice. Allowing the apprentice time to pursue learning is the most obvious way to support their development. When line managers set clear boundaries, ring fencing time for learning, it not only provides the much needed space for apprentices, but also sends a clear message that learning matters. So what might that look like?
Sticking with Mike and his need to develop skills around chairing a meeting. As this doesn’t form part of his day to day job, Mike would benefit from having the opportunity to gain this experience. Mike’s line manager could give him this opportunity and coach him to know what to expect. So whilst Mike chairs a meeting during working hours, this still constitutes off-the-job learning.
So what are the implications for the organisation?
It all depends on how we interpret off-the-job. In a literal sense, 20% off-the-job learning would be equivalent to 1 day per working week, harkening back to the traditional day-release apprenticeship. Whilst this is still an option, its not always ideal for either the organisation or the learner. Stepping out of the business one day each week can be quite disruptive to the business and can place extra demands on the apprentice as they try to cram 5 days work into their 4 days in the office.
However, as previously discussed, off-the-job can also be interpreted as skills outside their normal day to day role. This definition allows for a much more fluid approach to learning. In this sense, learning can be combined with doing which is always good at reinforcing the adoption of new skills. It also means that the apprentice can learn during working hours, simultaneously contributing to their workplace and learning at the same time. This must surely be the best of both worlds.
If Mike takes the opportunity to chair a meeting, he can do this during normal working hours. Provided the activity is documented, it will count towards his overall apprenticeship. At the same time Mike is learning through practical experience, something which is proven to accelerate the adoption of new skills. In addition, the organisation benefits are twofold, Mike learning to chair a meeting increases his skills set. In addition, the organisation will benefit from better organised meetings.
In summary, off-the-job learning need not be literally interpreted in the traditional sense of day-release. Being able to put new skills into practice in a real world environment also benefits the apprentice. The most important point is that learning is documented, something we will cover in the net post.
If you have other questions on off-the-job learning, the apprentice levy or just want an informal conversation with us, please get in touch either by calling us on 015395 67878, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our dedicated website www.dovenestapprenticeships.co.uk