The apprentice perspective on 20% off-the-job training

One of the big talking points of the new apprenticeships has been 20% off-the-job training.  

With 20% off-the-job training now a mandatory part of the apprenticeship process, employers are navigating the new rules, hopefully for a great cause: skilled employees, long-term development, increased productivity and higher retention rates.

To get an on-the-ground perspective on the new rules in practice, we speak to an apprentice, our Regional Sales Manager, Lisa James, on her experiences with 20% off-the-job training.

Tell us about yourself....

I'm a Regional Sales Manager ​in the UK Schools team and -  an apprentice. I've worked at Pearson for 17 years in various sales roles, starting as a Primary Sales rep, moving into Primary Management, then Secondary Sales, and following a brief spell as a Curriculum Development Manager on the Edexcel Schools team, I joined the Secondary Sales Management team in 2010.  

I currently line manage 9 people, all working with Secondary School Heads of Department and Senior Leaders, as well as Multi-Academy Trusts and other local and national groups. I'm studying the CMDA via the Open University, so my study time is mostly spent at home, working through the online and print modules.

How is your 20% off-the-job training implemented?​

I'm currently using it mostly to work through the online work and assignments.  As the course progresses and I start to do more investigative work, I'll be spending my time meeting with colleagues and researching the areas identified for my future assignments.​

What difference does your day release make to you?

​It makes a huge difference.  Quite simply, I wouldn't be able to get through the work without it.​

Has 20% off-the-job training benefitted your everyday job?​

Yes.  The CMDA is very relevant to my current role.  It's helping me understand the wider workings of the business and therefore gives much more context to my everyday work, as well as in understanding the decisions that need to be made by senior leaders​, even if they're unpopular ones. Modules on the practical side of the course on topics such as emotional intelligence, wellbeing and communication are vital in my role as a people manager and are helping me to further my own development in these areas to, hopefully, become a more effective manager (at least that's the aim!).

What are the drawbacks of studying and working at the same time?​

Time management​. On the CMDA, we are studying two 60-credit modules in parallel (so the equivalent of full time study).  It has been a serious challenge to balance this work together with a busy full-time job, family life and other out-of work commitments and in the long-term, I have fed back to both my manager and the OU that I believe it's asking too much of people to attempt this and to be able to do justice to the work (even with taking the 20%).

What support do you get to study?

​Support at work comes from my line manager who is very accommodating of the 20% off the job. My team are also great and very supportive. I can also flex the time according to diary commitments in work which is a benefit of studying via the OU.​ ​At home I have a very supportive family who give me the room I need to get work done when I need to.​

Want more help and advice on implementing 20% off-the-job?

Why not join our webinar 'Making 20% off-the-job training work' on Monday 25th June, 12.30 - 13.30. This webinar will shed light on how employers and training providers are approaching the requirement in practice and what exactly it means for delivery. Through the experiences and recommendations of our expert panel you will take away ideas for how to make 20% off-the-job work for you.