Over the years, apprenticeships have developed into what we know today. They are recognised as an effective alternative to traditional education for individuals to gain practical skills and knowledge in a specific trade or profession. Before regulations, apprenticeships had little solid structure or format in which apprentices gained skills and knowledge. Most skills gained on an apprenticeship developed from learning on the job, also known as on-the-job training. In recent years, a new form of training has emerged as a separate component of apprenticeship programs. Providing apprentices with a broader and more comprehensive skill set. In this article, we will explore what off-the-job training entails in apprenticeships and how it contributes to the overall learning experience.
What is Off-the-Job Training?
Off-the-job training is all about the structured learning and development that happens outside the apprentice's usual work setup. It includes things like classroom sessions, workshops, simulations, online courses, and other learning experiences that take place away from the usual work routine. The whole point of this training is to go hand in hand with the hands-on training and give apprentices some theoretical knowledge, technical know-how, and a better grasp of their field of interest.
What is Classed as Off-the-Job Training?
Apprentices usually attend classroom sessions in a group or on a one to one basis. These lessons can occur in person, on a specific site or online hosted on apps such as Teams or Zoom. These lessons are usually ran by an experienced tutor/assessor who will teach theoretical concepts linking to the job, principles, and best practices related to their trade. Classroom-based learning enables apprentices to grasp foundational knowledge, develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
Apprenticeship programs often incorporate online platforms and e-learning modules to provide flexibility and accessibility to learners. Online courses and resources offer self-paced learning opportunities, enabling apprentices to revisit topics, reinforce their understanding, and access additional learning materials whenever necessary. Some online learning modules may include research exercises, workbooks to work through, online quizzes and case studies.
Apprentices may visit external organisations, industry sites, or participate in industry-specific events and exhibitions. These experiences provide apprentices with exposure to different workplace environments, technologies, and processes. They gain insights into industry trends, innovations, and emerging practices, broadening their perspective beyond their own workplace.
How Much Off-the-Job Training is Required?
In the UK, all apprentices must be given at least 20% of their total working hours to developing their skills, knowledge and behaviours in the apprenticeship. It is designed this way to ensure that apprentices receive a well-rounded education and acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to excel in their chosen field.
To give an example, if the apprenticeship involves a five-day work week, the apprentice would spend four days (80% of the time) on the job and one day (20% of the time) participating in off-the-job training activities. This could include attending classroom sessions, workshops, online courses, and industry visits, among other learning experiences. It's important to remember that off-the-job training can come in all shapes and sizes! Some may benefit from spreading their 20% off-the-job training across the whole week which may equate to one hour thirty minutes a day.
When apprenticeship programs set aside a good chunk of time for off-the-job training, it's like giving apprentices a real chance to dig deep and expand their horizons. They get to soak up knowledge, build up their theoretical foundations, and sharpen their critical skills. And the best part? They go beyond their own workplace bubble and get a taste of what's happening in the industry world. It's all about finding that sweet spot between hands-on experience and theoretical knowledge, so that apprentices can become well-rounded individuals who make a real impact in their industries.
When it comes to off-the-job training, the main skills to master is the knowledge, skills, and behaviours (KSBs). These are the main objectives that apprentices will pick up along the way. The goal is to make sure apprentices have a solid skill set that matches up with what their trade or profession demands. Let's break down the different parts of these KSBs in off-the-job training:
Knowledge based KSBs focus on theoretical understanding and foundational concepts relevant to the apprenticeship program. This includes industry-specific knowledge, regulations, standards, and best practices.
Skills based KSBs encompass the practical abilities that apprentices need to develop during off-the-job training. These skills are directly related to the tasks and responsibilities associated with the chosen trade or profession. Skills based KSBs often involve hands-on practice and application.
Behavioural KSBs focus on the desired professional behaviours and work ethics expected from apprentices. These behaviours contribute to the overall success and professionalism of the apprenticeship experience.
The specific KSBs for off-the-job training in an apprenticeship program are typically defined by industry experts, regulatory bodies, and employers. They provide a framework for assessing the progress and performance of apprentices throughout their training. KSBs also help ensure that apprentices develop a comprehensive set of competencies, encompassing both technical and non-technical aspects, to become competent professionals in their chosen field.
Benefits of Off-the-Job Training in Apprenticeships
Off-the-job training is crucial to an apprentices development into a professional, we would even go as far to say that other forms of education should incorporate this form of training. We have highlighted some of the key benefits to what off-the-job training provides.
Skills development is a crucial aspect of personal and professional growth. It involves the process of acquiring and enhancing a wide range of abilities and competencies that are valuable. It involves developing both soft and technical skills through a wide range of off-the-job and on-the-job learning.
Workshops create a safe space for apprentices to practice their skills and experiment without fear of making mistakes that could have real-world consequences. This risk-free environment encourages exploration and fosters a growth mindset.
Industry visits, events, and online platforms facilitate networking among apprentices, professionals, and industry leaders. Building connections within the industry opens doors to potential mentors, job opportunities, and a broader support network.
Adapting to Industry Changes
Off-the-job training ensures apprentices stay updated with the latest industry trends, technologies, and practices. This adaptability prepares them to navigate the evolving demands of their profession and contribute to innovation within their field.
Off-the-job training has become an indispensable component of modern apprenticeships. By combining hands-on experience with theoretical knowledge, apprentices benefit from a comprehensive learning experience that equips them with the skills, confidence, and versatility required in today's workforce. Off-the-job training expands horizons, promotes innovation, and enables apprentices to reach their full potential as they embark on successful careers in their chosen trades or professions.