Not meeting the Off-the-job training hours

Home Forums Data issues Not meeting the Off-the-job training hours

This topic contains 17 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  Spats 1 month, 2 weeks ago.

Viewing 18 posts - 1 through 18 (of 18 total)
  • Author
    Posts

  • andybank
    Participant

    Hi

    We have an apprentice who has completed all the learning to achieve his apprenticeship but hasn’t met the 20% off-the-job training requirement. The OTJ training was listed and agreed in the Commitment Statement; he just hasn’t done it.

    Do we have to add any codes to the ILR to initiate a funding reduction to take this into account? I can’t see anything referenced anywhere; there’s plenty of guidance explaining what OTJ training is and how to calculate it and that Apprentices must do it etc etc (we’ve done all that!), but nothing about what to do if we know it’s going to be missed.

    Thanks

     
    #343063

    steveh
    Participant

    So the current line on this, where you can’t demonstrate 20% has happened (even though it was planned), is that they’ll look at it on a “case by case basis”…

    …I think if you can demonstrate 18-19% happened you’ll *probably* be OK, but if it’s less than that, I think you’re on pretty thin ice and they’ll have it all back. It’s just a binary in terms of funding in these cases, as far as I can tell.

    Questions will be asked about your skills scan/initial assessment of the learner needing the full thing if it turns out he kind of didn’t…

     
    #343067

    alex.miles
    Participant

    At a recent event the ESFA said the 20% is a mandatory requirement – for planning and completing – therefore if 20% hasn’t been met then the apprenticeship hasn’t been achieved. The responsibility sits with the training provider to ensure this happens and the ILR shouldn’t be processed until it has.

    A

     
    #343069

    Martin West
    Participant

    Hi Andy,
    I am not as optimistic as Steve over less than 20%.

    P27. Off-the-job training is a statutory requirement for an English apprenticeship.

    P36. If planned off-the-job training is unable to take place as scheduled, you and the employer must ensure this is re-arranged so that the full complement of training set out in the commitment statement can still be delivered. All off-the-job training must take place during paid hours. Apprentices may choose to spend additional time on training outside their paid hours, but this must not be required to complete the apprenticeship and must not be included in the 20% calculation.

    Where the Apprentice fails to meet the requirement for the apprentice to spend 20% of their time in off-the-job training (as set out in paragraph P31), the apprenticeship is ineligible for funding and they will be unable to complete.

    Guidance on how you give the funding back is not published.

    I would advise you inform the Apprentice and Employer that the Apprenticeship cannot be certified as completed until the 20% OJT requirement has been net.
    HTH

     
    #343073

    steveh
    Participant

    I agree that it’s for the best to get the 20%, but the quote is from ESFA here:

    https://feweek.co.uk/2019/01/25/providers-that-plan-for-less-than-20-off-the-job-training-will-have-all-funding-recovered/

    However, those that intended to deliver at least 20 per cent but only had evidence for less than the minimum would be given the opportunity to provide additional evidence.

    This does rather feel like they’re talking about sickness, bereavement or other circumstances beyond our control which wouldn’t be a BIL, rather than just the App not doing what they’re meant to…

     
    #343087

    andybank
    Participant

    Thanks for the advice.
    So if we can’t persuade the Apprentice to back-load the required OTJ training, we’ll have to record the Programme as Withdrawn.
    However, if the apprenticeship is ineligible for funding in it’s entirety, how would that work in as much as we’ve already been paid for the periods completed in 2017-18? We can set the programme to non-funded in the ILR and 18-19 will sort itself out, but that won’t help 2017-18. Are we expected to do some sort of voluntary manual refund of the 17-18 funding?

    This could be a significant problem in the longer term as we can only assess compliance with OTJ training at the end of the apprenticeship, but have no simple way of updating the funding from previous academic years.

    It seems a very difficult way to do things properly.

     
    #343106

    Spats
    Participant

    I think the expectation would be that you monitoring the OTJ element throughout the course of the apprenticeship so that you can identify whether or not it’s likely to present a problem and address it earlier, not wait until the end before realising that the minimum hasn’t been met.

    One of the problems that you’ll face with trying to get up to 20% now is that doing so will extend the period of the apprenticeship, which will in turn increase the number of hours that will be required to meet that 20% – you’ll be chasing a potentially ever-increasing figure.

    I don’t think anybody really knows how to arrange manual repayments to the ESFA for funding received in previous years. It’s come up here before and been left with a collective question mark hanging in the air.

     
    #343115

    Martin West
    Participant

    Hi Spats,
    The 20% is based on the planned training duration not the actual duration so it would not increase.
    HTH

     
    #343127

    Spats
    Participant

    Which document mentions that, Martin? The “policy background and examples” doc says that it has to be calculated based on the learner’s employed time and there’s a post on this issue from back in Sept where you yourself said that the 20% is based on actual duration, not planned duration:

    http://feconnect.education.gov.uk/forums/topic/20-off-the-job-2/

     
    #343134

    Martin West
    Participant

    Hi Spats,
    That post was for those who complete prior to their planned end date.
    The funding rules state:
    P31. To attract government funding at least 20% of the apprentice’s paid hours, over the planned duration of the training period within the apprenticeship (for standards this is called the practical period, which ends at the gateway for end-point assessment), must be spent on off-the-job training.
    HTH

     
    #343140

    Kate Moore
    Participant

    I can see very clearly the requirement for OTJ to be planned properly & demonstrate that this is at least 20% of their paid hours based on their planned duration. This is clearly a requirement within the commitment statement & listed within the Evidence pack requirements.

    However, there is no mention within the evidence pack requirements in the funding rules that we must hold full evidence to show that the 20% has been achieved. Under the completion section of the Evidence Requirements (P293) it states evidence of completion, minimum duration being met & evidence of employer’s co-investment if applicable – no mention of OTJ evidence/actual hours delivered.

    Our approach, which I feel is good practice, is to evidence all OTJ, monitor this & discuss during reviews etc therefore, on completion we are able to evidence the 20% being achieved. However, there are a handful of apprentices which are causing us some concern as both the employer & apprentice are confirming that additional OTJ is happening in the workplace but they are failing to provide us with ‘timesheet/evidence’ of this. We are debating that due to the lack of requirement within the evidence pack requirements & the absence of this specific check within the auditor working papers – is this actually going to be subject to audit & will they only be auditing for existence of a plan. By potentially removing all funding from apprentices who have fallen short (in some instances by 1-2%) are we cutting ourselves short of funding that for activity that has been delivered & also not enabling the apprentice to achieve their apprenticeship due to a grey area and one that will never actually be subject to an audit check?

     
    #343177

    alex.miles
    Participant

    I think the funding rules are quite clear that you must evidence the off the job and it must be a minimum of 20% planned duration – i think providers are on thin ice if they do not adhere to this rule due to the sequencing of where you may find it in the guidance. It is in the rules therefore it will be audited.

    P36. At least 20% of the apprentice’s paid hours, over the planned duration of the apprenticeship, must be spent on off-the-job training. Apprentices may need more than 20% off-the-job training (see paragraph P37). Evidence must be available to support the training delivered

    If planned off-the-job training is unable to take place as scheduled, you must ensure this is rearranged. All off-the-job training must take place during paid hours. Apprentices may choose to spend additional time on training outside their paid hours, but this must not be required to complete the apprenticeship.

     
    #343179

    Kate Moore
    Participant

    I still think it is a grey area & they are not being explicit. I appreciate that evidence must be available to support the training and I’m not suggesting that it wouldn’t be – it’s more about where there is clear evidence that OTJ has been delivered & evidenced but it just falls short by a small amount from the required 20%.

    Within the audit working papers FM36, which can be found at http://lsect.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/FM36-working-papers.xlsx, I can’t see within the Test, Issue or Critical Factor where the auditors would be asking to see evidence that the 20% has been met & is evidenced.

    I’m not looking for ways to shortcut or get around funding rules, it’s just about applying the rules in the spirit of the rules & in accordance with our requirement to evidence so that in the small instances where there are genuine reasons for a shortfall that the apprentice, employer or us as the training provider are not penalised unfairly.

    I appreciate that at various funding conferences the auditors have said that they would be looking for evidence of actual but I don’t see on what basis they can insist on this & therefore, withdraw all funding if there is a shortfall.

     
    #343181

    GeorgeC
    Participant

    In the last round of College audits (17/18) the auditors used the test 3.xi in the D4 working paper (FM36), which states: “The evidence pack must contain details of how the 20% off the job training will be quantified and delivered.” (I believe in the latest working papers the reference has changed to 3.x)

    In practise the auditors looked for evidence that there was a plan that correctly calculated the 20% hours at an apprentice level for off OTJ and a plan to deliver those hours.

    We also looked at evidence of actual delivery of the hours to ensure this reconciled to the plan and appeared to be reasonable.

    From an audit perspective, where there is insufficient evidence to demonstrate that an apprentice had met the 20% OTJ hours and could potentially impact funding (i.e. either had failed to demonstrate completion of sufficient OTJ hours, or the plan was achieved but incorrectly understated) this would in the first instance be raised as an error for initial discussion with the provider to understand how the error occured.

    Depending on the individual circumstances of the apprentice and the OTJ hours delivered / evidence (case-by-case basis) the audit firms would take guidance from the agency on the impact (we don’t remove the funding).

    So using the circumstances described above where a learner didn’t attend, however the College could demonstrate achievement of say around 18% of the OTJ hours I would expect to see various notes on file that showed the calculation was correct, there was a plan to deliver the hours and that the learner was absent / did not attend some of the planned sessions /activities.

    In that instance it would be raised initially as an error (errors don’t necessarily mean funding impacts) and various discussions would then take place (with the College, other firms and the Agency).

    I would caveat this with that from a personal level i would be looking at whether this was the exception rather than the rule within the sample selected. If within a statistically valid sample of 30 learners there was more than one instance identified where the learner was below the 20% OTJ this would suggests to me a wider issue.

    The difficulty last year was that very few learners had achieved or gone through EPA, and my understanding is that in order to get through the EPA process and achieve the provider must be able to demonstrate the apprentice’s 20% OTH hours (* I acknowledge I may be incorrect on this – apologies if so).

    This meant that in all of the cases i looked at the apprentice was still on programme and could achieve the 20% OTJ hours post the audit (if not demonstrated already).

    If there was a scenario where an apprentice had gone through EPA and achieved the apprenticeship and the auditor identified an issue with OTJ hours post achievement then the auditors would take advice on the impact from the Agency.

    I’d be happy to have a conversation offline if that would be of assistance.

     
    #343414

    Kate Moore
    Participant

    That’s really helpful thank you George. We only see this challenge with a handful of apprentices so certainly not a systemic problem as our controls are fairly robust, but really helpful for our discussions.

    Thanks

     
    #343435

    steveh
    Participant

    Thanks for this George, that’s really very helpful!

    I think my concern about 18/19 audits that was less of an issue in 17/18, is providers are going to have Apps who completed/achieved six months before and not be able to evidence the 20% delivery and no opportunity to do anything about it. At least with on-programme learners, you can take remedial action if learners are behind schedule, but if they’ve long gone, you are likely to be stuffed…

     
    #343445

    GeorgeC
    Participant

    My personal view on this is that if an app has gone through EPA and achieved then the impact of not meeting the correct 20% OTJ cannot be to remove the whole programme funding as the provider can demonstrate that the apprentice undertook learning and achieved their apprenticeship. That being said we just follow the guidance issued by the agency.

    I seem to recall that for Apps on FM35 there was some confusion a few years ago when providers were informed that they could just provide achievement evidence for apprentices instead of a whole evidence pack (on programme participation etc). Where this happened it resulted in management letter points being raised in the audit reports but did not impact the funding.

    I think that one of the key things would be whether or not it was identified as a systematic issue within a provider being audited ie is it one out of the sample and a handful overall or is it multiple within the sample and potentially an area where the controls are weak.

     
    #343483

    Spats
    Participant

    I’m probably missing something, but would the easiest solution to this not be that the EPAO requests to see evidence of the 20% OTJ as a prerequisite of booking the EPA itself?

     
    #343489
Viewing 18 posts - 1 through 18 (of 18 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.