What Counts as 20% 'Off-the-Job' Apprenticeship Training? 15+ Examples & Printable PDF



As an apprenticeship employer, you have a responsibility to ensure that your apprentice spends 20% of their time at work on 'off-the-job' training.

Traditionally, this would involve the apprentice spending one day each week completing a course at a college.

However, there are more flexible ways to fulfil this requirement (such as workplace-based online learning), and there are many activities you might not realise count towards the 20% apprentice training time too.

Whether you currently employ apprentices or are considering introducing an apprenticeship scheme within your organisation, it’s essential to understand how you can fulfil the all-important 20% off-the-job learning requirement.


Access the printable PDF guide to 20% off-the-job training activities here.


The Basics of Off-the-Job Apprenticeship Training

Off-the-job training is an integral part of the apprenticeship journey, as apprentices should be learning frequently and continuously throughout their time with your organisation.

As an apprenticeship is a work-based training programme, the 20% off-the-job time is required to assist the apprentice in becoming fully occupationally competent.

Apprenticeship agreements set out the requirement to meet this 20% off-the-job training requirement; if you neglect this, your apprentice won't be gaining enough professional development and you won't be meeting the conditions of the apprenticeship.

The 20% requirement is only the minimum amount of time that should be used to develop the apprentice off-the-job. Employers who want to accelerate their apprentices' development can choose to dedicate more time to training as required.

The off-the-job training that you provide to your apprentices must closely relate to the relevant apprenticeship standard. This ensures that your apprentices are given an effective combination of theoretical and practical skills.

Your apprentices' off-the-job learning time should take place during their normal working hours and should be paid at the same rate as their normal work time.

You must offer your apprentice time off in lieu or additional payment if part of their training must fall outside of their normal working hours. For example, if a networking event is in the evening, the apprentice should be offered the opportunity to start their working day later, finish earlier on another day, or be paid their normal hourly rate for time spent at the event.


Learn which activities count as off-the-job training here. 




How to Assess If an Activity Is Off-the-Job Training

If you’re unsure whether an activity counts towards your apprentice’s off-the-job training requirement, there are a few questions that you can ask to determine whether it's eligible.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is the learner currently enrolled on their apprenticeship?
  • Is the activity directly relevant to the apprenticeship (i.e. teaching skills, knowledge or behaviours that are set out in the apprenticeship standard)?
  • Is the activity teaching the apprentice new knowledge, skills and behaviours?
  • Is the learning taking place during the apprentice’s paid working hours (or are they receiving time off in lieu or additional payment if the learning must take place outside of their working hours)?

If the answer to all of these questions is ‘yes’, then you can count the time spent on the activity towards the 20% requirement.

Generally, it’s not too difficult to assess whether an activity counts, as you will get a feeling as to whether they benefit the apprentice’s development as a professional. If you’re unsure, then you can research this further by investigating the competencies and outcomes of the task.

However, not every activity will meet the criteria above, and there are some notable exceptions to be aware of. Some examples of activities that would not be counted towards the 20% training include:

  • Travel time, for example when travelling to workshops.
  • Training for skills, knowledge or behaviours that aren’t included in the apprenticeship standard, even if they’re necessary for your apprentice’s specific role in your organisation (for example, an HR apprentice that’s being trained to manage the company’s social media).
  • English and Maths training to meet the requirement that all apprentices hold a Level 2 English and Maths qualification by the time they complete their apprenticeship.
  • Progress reviews and on-programme assessments that are needed for the assessment of the apprenticeship, rather than for the purpose of developing new skills.

Being aware of these different requirements allows you to give your apprentice the best training possible, while also fulfilling the apprenticeship agreement.


Click here for 15+ examples of what counts as off-the-job training.




Apprenticeships can help new and existing members of staff to become greater assets to your business. Fitting training time around your apprentice’s schedule will help them progress and motivate them to continue learning, while ensuring their training doesn't disrupt their work or their team.

If you want self-paced online learning, unlimited support and world-class training for your apprentices, view our HR, L&D and management apprenticeships or get in touch with our apprenticeship consultants. We provide unbeatable flexibility through our online learning platform, allowing your apprentices to shape their 20% off-the-job learning around their busy schedule. 


Download our printable guide to what counts as off-the-job learning to help you fulfil the 20% apprenticeship training requirement.


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