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What is an Apprenticeship?

What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a paid job where the employee learns and gains valuable experiences (GovUK). Through an apprenticeship, an apprentice will gain the technical knowledge, practical experience and wider skills and behaviours that they need for their immediate job and future career. The apprentice gains this through formal off-the-job training and the opportunity to practise these new skills in a real work environment (on-the-job training).” Education and Skills Funding Agency definition.

The key principle underpinning degree apprenticeships is the use of the workplace as a source of and focus for learning.  This requires the Apprentice to develop reflective and analytical skills.  Thus, a practitioner is developed who not only has the necessary knowledge, skills and competences but is also an independent learner with critical thinking skills that will impact on their future and also potentially on the future of your organisation and its workforce. Work-based learners need to be highly motivated active learners and be able to work autonomously.

The nature of learning at work moves the focus of responsibility firmly into the hands of the learner.  Individual learners are required not only to take responsibility for identifying their learning needs and aspirations but also for managing the learning process.  This will involve the Apprentice engaging with a range of learning experiences, enabling them to interpret, analyse and challenge current thinking and practice.  This will however require a supportive learning environment in the workplace and coordinated facilitation by both the Employer (Workplace Mentor) and the Programme Team (Academic Coach and Personal Tutor).

We will work with you to create graduates with the knowledge, skills and competences as identified in the specific Apprenticeship Standards.  Technical, contextual and behavioural competency development and assessment will be embedded in apprenticeship programmes; where relevant being informed by Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Body (PSRB) requirements.  We seek, therefore, to produce graduates who display distinctiveness through a sophisticated understanding of the ways in which their organisations operate equipping them for a career in their chosen industry.


Off-the-Job Training (OJT)

Off-the-job training (OJT) is a statutory requirement for an English apprenticeship. It is training received by the apprentice within their practical period, during the apprentice’s normal working hours, for the purpose of achieving the knowledge, skills and behaviours of the apprenticeship they are undertaking.  Normal working hours means hours for which the apprentice would normally be paid, excluding overtime. It must deliver new skills that are directly relevant to the apprenticeship standard.

It is not on the job training, which is training received by the apprentice for the sole purpose of enabling the apprentice to perform the work for which they have been employed.  This means any training undertaken which does not specifically link to the knowledge, skills and behaviours set out in the apprenticeship.

OJT delivers new skills that are directly relevant to the apprenticeship and can include the following:

  • Teaching of theory, e.g. lectures, role playing, simulation exercises, online learning and manufacturer training;
  • Practical training, e.g. shadowing, mentoring, industry visits and participation in competitions;
  • Learning support;
  • Time spent writing assessments/assignments; and
  • Revision (where this is specifically required for achievement of the apprenticeship).

It must not include:

  • Initial assessment and onboarding activities;
  • English and maths training (where this is required, this must be delivered in addition to the minimum off-the-job training requirement);
  • Training to acquire knowledge, skills and behaviours that are not required by the apprenticeship standard;
  • Progress reviews;
  • Examinations and other testing (e.g. on-programme assessments linked to a qualification, mock EPA testing) and;
  • Training which takes place outside the apprentice’s normal working hours;

- If off-the-job training must, by exception, take place outside of these hours, the apprentice must agree and be compensated for this arrangement (e.g. time off in lieu or an additional payment).The majority of training must not be done this way


As the employer, you commit to and are responsible for releasing the apprentice (during normal working hours) from their workplace duties to enable them to undertake a minimum of 20% OJT across the duration of the programme.

Please note that if the apprentice is working towards a level 2 qualification in English and/or maths, this is in addition to the minimum 20% OJT.

To find out more, see ESFA funding rules and guidance for employers ‘Off-the-job training’.  There is also some useful information that helps you determine whether an activity counts as off-the-job training and this can be found here.


End-point Assessment (EPA)

The EPA is a holistic and independent assessment of the knowledge, skills and behaviours, which have been learnt throughout an apprenticeship standard. The requirements for EPA are set out in the assessment plan for the specific standard which can be found at the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE) web site. An apprentice can only take the EPA once they have:

  • Met the minimum duration of an apprenticeship
  • Satisfied the gateway requirements set out in the assessment plan and,
  • You as employer (in consultation with Northumbria as main provider) is satisfied they have attained sufficient skills, knowledge and behaviours to successfully complete the apprenticeship.

It is expected that all apprentices who fulfil these criteria will undertake EPA and you will support them to do this

Unless the apprenticeship has been identified as an ‘integrated standard’, you will select an End-point assessment organisation (EPAO) to deliver the EPA from the Apprenticeship Provider and Assessment Register (APAR) before the programme starts. Northumbria University can do this on your behalf with your written permission.

Although you and the University will be involved in arrangements for EPA, the assessment itself must be independent. Some assessment plans give the employer and the provider specific roles.

Further information which includes roles and responsibilities can be found at the following link ‘Apprenticeship gateway and resits for end-point assessment’.


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