Changing the record: new requirement to log off-the-job hours on the ILR

It’s fair to say that the rule that an apprentice must spend 20% of their program doing ‘off-the-job’ training has proven controversial. Whilst some recognise the value of this kind of training in aiding the development of an apprentice, others see it as needlessly constrictive, and a key barrier to recruitment.

There are no signs that the rule itself is set to change, and in 2019/20 providers will be mandated to log the planned off-the-job hours on the Individual Learner Record (ILR). A field to record off-the-job hours was introduced to the ILR for 2018/19, however it is currently optional to complete.

The change is in response to a National Audit Office on the apprenticeships programme, which identified a ‘red risk’ that the government could not ensure that the 20% off-the-job rule was being met.

Whilst this new measure goes some way to evidencing the time spent off the job, it doesn’t necessarily give all the required information to understand if the rule is being met, as the precise number of working hours (or on-the-job hours) are not recorded.

The alternative would have been to increase the number of audits, but this is a costly (and no doubt unpopular) approach.

It is important that all providers are familiar with the new rule, and ensure that the off-the-job hours are recorded in the next academic year. It seems clear that the 20% off-the job rule is here for the foreseeable future. For some sectors, this could be more challenging. It is up to employers, providers and End-Point Assessment Organisations to help develop high quality programmes that comply.

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