Find the right balance to make 20% work

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Written by Fay Gibbin on 22 May 2018

For many learners, the appeal of apprenticeships is that they offer the chance to gain an academic qualification whilst receiving practical ‘hands-on’ experience. It’s a valuable offering to businesses too, as they enable employers to upskill workforces and equip their team with the right knowledge, behaviours and skills, that they know are tried and trusted.

Yet one key discussion point of the government’s apprenticeship reforms has been its strict guideline that apprentices must spend 20% of their time off the job training. The guideline has been met with confusion and opposition from some levy paying businesses who see it as effectively losing a member of staff for one day a week.

The time afforded to academic learning is a concern for employers who have or want to hire multiple apprentices but can’t afford the drop in productivity. It’s even become a sticking point for some, discouraging businesses across a range of sectors from providing good quality training places to young people.

It is a worry that confusion around this has potentially affected the number of apprenticeship places, but for businesses who are cautious about the 20/80% split, partnering with a smart training provider can make the balance between on the job training and academic learning work for them.  

A key part of making an apprenticeship work for them, is recruiting a training provider that understands the employer’s business.

Smart delivery

A key part of making an apprenticeship work for them, is recruiting a training provider that understands the employer’s business. Every business has different practices and a different structure, so they need a training programme which is going to be tailored to them.

Technology has had a huge impact on the way academic training is delivered and has helped to make learning while in the same workspace a possibility for apprentices. A blended approach, coupling new and more traditional training methods can be key to making the 20% requirement fit in with the needs of the business. 

You can use a mix of delivery methods to ensure that not only do apprentices have the right amount of time dedicated to academic learning, but that it fits around their regular work duties. Something which is vitally important as ‘off the job’ training can’t be set as ‘homework’.

Through one on ones, group learning, observations and distance learning, you can ensure that apprentices’ training is flexible. This is so the right training method can be delivered to suit the strengths, career goals and traits of each learner, helping them to reach their potential. 

Tailoring training programmes and delivery methods to businesses allows them to find the right balance. For example, if productivity is particularly busy during a specific time during the week or month, flexible training methods can allow learners to take time aside when their work duties are a little more relaxed.

Finding the balance

Finding a balance between a business’s needs and those of an individual is vital to creating a training programme that will bring the best out of learners and help create the right workforce for an employer. Without setting aside a sufficient amount of time for apprentices to receive theory-based training, then neither them or their employer will benefit from their enhanced knowledge and skills.

For some businesses finding one day a week to spare for one or more of its employees may be hard to find. But with the right training programme, delivered by a flexible training provider, the perfect balance can be struck.


About the author

Fay Gibbin is CEO of BB Training Academy

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