Posted: 5 March 2019
Off-the-job training is an important aspect of apprenticeships. It allows the apprentice to learn from external specialists and/or experts, and develop a wider range of skills and knowledge. This helps them to become more competent and confident in their role. But the 20% off-the-job training requirement continues to be a 'hot topic' among many adult social care employers, who have concerns around how to manage it. The government has recently published some guidance, which addresses many of the myths.
We spoke to Robert Brady from Voyage Care, a large national care provider that delivers apprenticeships, to discover how they manage the 20% off-the-job training requirement.
Have you changed the way you approach off-the-job training since the introduction of the apprenticeship standards?
Many of the changes we've made have been attitudinal rather than structural. We've always offered apprentices the opportunity to access learning during off-the-job time. However, in the past there weren't any clear rules under the funding requirements, so sometimes apprentices did this outside of their contracted hours. We realised this needed to change. Even for a values-led organisation like Voyage Care there has certainly been a period of education and adjustment. Managers, at all levels, have been instrumental in changing this mind-set, from losing 20% of an employee’s contracted hours to investing 20% of an employees contracted hours to develop a better-skilled workforce, which helps to improve the quality of care and support, and increase employee retention and engagement.
How do you deliver off-the-job training?
The apprentices at Voyage Care have full access to our eLearning suite. The learning is tailored to the specific needs of our service and supports the career pathway that the learner has chosen. We have an experienced team of vocational qualification assessors who have the skills and knowledge to support and direct the learners. Off-the-job training is a critical part of the learning and development process and is key to ensuring all our learners go through the end-point assessment process with a clear and confident approach.
How do you manage off-the-job training?
For us, it’s all about upfront planning. We plan all aspects of our apprenticeship programmes including the 20% off-the-job training. We utilise our in-house learning and development resources to suppport off-the-job training, and use the expertise of the training and assessment team to plan this. This ensures that the learner has the best possible experience whilst on the programme.
How do you record off-the-job training?
We record off-the-job training in two places: on the apprentice's individual learning plan and in our e-portfolio. As the process becomes more embedded we may reduce this to one entry but currently this solution has not had a huge impact on workload and has proven effective.
How do you manage the costs when the apprentice is away from the workplace?
We’re able to absorb some of the costs in-house to accommodate the time that apprentices spend away from the workplace. We see this as a worthwhile investment because it increases their productivity in the long run, and helps them to develop into a more effective and efficient team member.
We also use the Workforce Development Fund (WDF) to claim back money towards the cost of back-fill wage costs when apprentices are away from their job.
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