Is it time to rename apprenticeship ‘off-the-job training’?

Katherine McKenna Head of Employer Engagement

There can be no doubt that language is powerful, with even the slightest nuance or turn of phrase influencing how we interpret a particular message. An example of this is the term ‘off-the-job training’, which is used to define the learning undertaken by an apprentice to develop their knowledge, skills and behaviours outside of their day-to-day work duties. Whilst the training must take place outside of an apprentice’s day-to-day role, it does not need to be completed away from the work environment. 

This subtlety is particularly relevant to professional apprenticeships where it is possible for apprentices to complete much of their off-the-job training, within the workplace. There are lots of activities which can be deemed to be part of an apprentice’s off-the-job training, for example: 

  • online learning (including self-directed study)
  • online workshops
  • shadowing colleagues / manager to learn new skills 
  • coaching sessions 
  • webinars 
  • conferences

We know that employers and apprentice line managers can find the off-the-job training requirement to be a confusing aspect of the apprenticeship programme. At Mindful Education, we provide support for employers on off-the-job training including guidance on how the requirement applies to their organisation and each apprentice individually. 

Training providers, employers and apprentices across the sector are calling for a change to this terminology. There is a shared belief that the term is out-dated, as many apprenticeships are no longer delivered in the traditional way (i.e. with one day at college per week), and that the language should be updated to reflect more flexible apprenticeship delivery models. 

A new campaign, backed by over 40 of the UK’s largest employers and sector bodies including AELP (Association of Employment & Learning Providers) and the 5% Club, is calling for the Department for Education to rethink the off-the-job terminology, and rename it to a term that more accurately reflects the requirement. 

With more apprenticeships being delivered in a blended / hybrid format and demand for professional apprenticeships increasing, we support this campaign and would welcome a review of the off-the-job training term. 

If you are interested in how we can support you with managing off-the-job training, or are looking for guidance on specific activities / apprenticeships, then please do get in touch at

Posted on: 27 November 2023

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