WHAT IS OJT?
One of the core elements of an apprenticeship is the completion of off-job-training (OJT). This is a non-negotiable part of any apprenticeship and it is important that employers understand this requirement before they agree to taking on an apprentice.
Apprenticeships are based around the apprentice completing 20% OJT during their programme. The funding guidelines for employers (DfE, 2021) states that off-the-job training is a statutory requirement for an English apprenticeship.
Now that we know we must include OJT in the apprenticeship, what does it consist of and how much is needed?
- The OJT Requirement
- Amount Of OJT
The number of OJT hours that an apprentice is required to achieve is based on their contracted number of hours. Things like annual leave are considered, as is the duration of the practical period of their apprenticeship. As a training provider, we need to know:
· Number of hours per week the apprentice is contracted for (should be 30 or more)
· Number of days annual leave
· Start and end dates for the apprenticeship
With the above information, the overall contracted hours can be calculated, from which the 20% can be deduced. Our Commitment Statement and the Apprenticeship Agreement both specify this figure.
For example, if the apprenticeship programme is 12 months long (excluding End Point Assessment) and the apprentice works 37 hours per week, with the statutory minimum leave (20 days plus 8 days Bank Holiday), the overall contracted hours would be 52 weeks – 5.6 weeks annual leave = 46.4 weeks, at 37 hours per week = 1,716.8 hours.
The OJT requirement is 20% of this, equalling 343.36 hours. All of these hours must be completed within the practical period (12 months in this example). As a rule of thumb, one day per week should be set aside for OJT.
What Counts As OJT?
This has been a source of confusion for years! The Department for Education have issued advice and guidance over this period, in an attempt to clarify what counts, and what does not count, as off-job-training. The Government define OJT as learning that is undertaken outside of day-to-day work activities and leads towards the achievement of the apprenticeship. It also states that it must take place within the apprentices normal working hours.
This is typically achieved through a day release programme, where the apprentice attends College one day a week. In most cases, this meets the requirement of being outside the normal work activities and being delivered within normal working hours.
There are other models that can be explored – block release, front-end loading and online delivery. Confusingly, off-job-training can also be delivered in the workplace.
Off-job-training is different to on-job-training. On-job-training is delivered in the workplace as part of normal work activities.
OJT must relate directly to the apprenticeship Standard being covered. Each apprenticeship has a defined set of knowledge, skills and behaviours that the apprentice must work towards achieving – this forms the core of the OJT. The OJT can be comprised of webinars, online learning, reading, classes, workshops, practical sessions, mentoring, events, competitions, and so on. Our apprenticeship co-ordinators will guide the apprentice and the employer to ensure OJT is met in an appropriate manner.
Maths & English
If the apprentice is required to study maths and/or English, this does not count towards OJT. This rule has unintended consequences… if the apprentice comes into College for 6 hours OJT, but must study maths / English for 2 hours, they will only accrue 4 hours OJT.
The result is that the apprentice will still need to get those ‘missing’ 2 hours OJT back somehow. This inevitably means that the apprentice will have to be released again during the week to complete this requirement.
OJT is a mandatory element of the apprenticeship and one that the employer agrees to when signing up an apprentice. It must be completing within normal working hours and all OJT hours must be accrued during the practical period of the apprenticeship.
DfE, 2021, Apprenticeship funding rules and guidance for employers: August 2021 to July 2022, available at https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1037430/2122_Employer_Rules_Version_2__To_publish.pdf