New off-the-job apprenticeship flexibility set for 2024/25

Active learning can take place every 3 months from August for front-loaded or block release apprenticeships

Active learning can take place every 3 months from August for front-loaded or block release apprenticeships

15 May 2024, 17:43

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The government is set to relax off-the-job training requirements in apprenticeships, new rules published today have revealed.

From July 31, 2024, “active learning” can take place every three months, up from the current every calendar month rule, for apprenticeships that have front-loaded or block-release delivery models.

Last year, changes were made to allow active learning to take place every calendar month rather than every 28 days to allow training to be planned around busy periods for certain employers, such as over Christmas for hospitality and retail businesses.

The Department for Education revealed it was reviewing the “minimum requirement” for active learning, which refers to off-the-job and English and maths training, in draft rules for 2024/25 published in March.

Version one of those funding rules was published today and said: “To support more flexible approaches to the delivery of training, we have changed the active learning requirement for programmes that have a front-loaded or a block release delivery model. For these two models, active learning must be delivered at least every three calendar months.”

The Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) claimed that learners, employers and providers have “supported these moves to allow for much more flexible delivery and to reduce the number of arbitrary breaks in learning taking place”.

Chief executive Ben Rowland said: “Relaxing the period in which off-the-job-training can be planned and then delivered means there’s more flexibility and will benefit learners and employers, as well as providers.

“The focus should be about delivering high-quality training and learning rather than having to stop and replan or instigate an unnecessary break in learning.”

Other notable changes from the draft funding rules include increasing the new subcontracting “de minimis” threshold from £30,000 to £100,000.

It means that from August, a provider will be allowed to use a subcontractor that is not on the published apprenticeship provider and assessment register (APAR) but who will deliver less than £100,000 of apprenticeship training and on-programme assessment “under contract across all main providers and employer-providers between 1 April and 31 March each year”.

The DfE said this will make it “easier for providers to bring in industry specialists to deliver training by introducing greater flexibility in subcontracting arrangements”.

Elsewhere, there has been a change to rules around scrapping the 5 per cent co-investment for non-levy paying employers taking on apprentices aged 16 to 21 – which was announced by prime minister Rishi Sunak in March and has applied to starts since April.

The removal of co-investment has now been extended to include apprentices aged between 22 and 24 years-old with an education, health and care plan and/or have been in the care of their local authority.

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One comment

  1. Tony Allen

    These changes are really just smoke and mirrors.
    The subcontracting flexibility only applies to those who already subcontract, as any arrangement under this rule has to be declared on the subcontracting return, and can be used only by those fully applying the subcontracting standard.
    The OJT change will not apply to the vast majority of apprenticeship programmes, and the coinvestment changes we know about anyway!