Proud of your Apprenticeship Delivery, Apprentices, Services your Organisation: 1st Years Platinum Membership £50.00
Posted on 06/02/2018 in Apprenticeship Sector News Stories

IfA: Off-the-job qualifications can be included in apprenticeships

IfA: Off-the-job qualifications can be included in apprenticeships

Overview of New Guidance

Once your proposed occupation has been approved for development as an apprenticeship standard, the next stage is to develop and write the occupational standard.

Occupational standards are used by:

  • potential apprentices, parents/guardians, schools, careers advisers, employees and employers as a description of the occupation
  • end-point assessment organisations approved to deliver the end-point assessment (EPA) for your apprenticeship standard, as they produce assessment tools, such as written tests and observations, alongside the EPA plan
  • T level panels in order to derive the standards and outline content for T level programmes
  • employers and training providers to:
    • analyse individual jobs for apprenticeship standard coverage/suitability. If a job does not cover all of the occupational standard requirements, then the ‘gap’ must be filled by off-the-job training; if this is not possible, then the job is not suitable for delivery of that particular apprenticeship standard
    • assess the prior learning of apprentices at the beginning of their apprenticeship, so that their training programme can be designed and shortened where appropriate; with the price paid by the apprentice’s employer reduced accordingly
    • design the off-the-job training
    • design, set out and deliver the on-the-job training

The duties that you developed for the occupation profile form the basis of your occupational standard. The occupational standard must also detail the knowledge, skills and behaviours (KSBs) required for competence in each duty, any mandated qualifications, the occupation level and, where applicable, any statutory/regulatory entry requirements and professional body alignment. This page has guidance on these elements.

You will need to enter the information in the occupational standard part of the online template and submit it along with supporting evidence required.

Your relationship manager (RM) must confirm that your draft occupational standard is ready for consideration before you submit it. Subject to this, you can submit it at any time and we will consider it after the next submission deadline date.

You can develop your EPA plan at the same time as your occupational standard and this may speed up your development process. However, it involves the risk of some wasted effort if we require changes to your occupational standard when you submit it for approval, which might impact on the EPA plan. Your RM will be able to advise you further on this point, taking account of your particular circumstances.



Our requirements for an apprenticeship occupational standard are detailed in the left hand column of the table below. The information you provide via the template will need to cover these requirements. The actions in the right hand column indicate how we will test your draft occupational standard against these requirements.

Is short, concise and clear and written to the Institute’s format
✔  Determining that it has been expressed concisely and clearly
✔  Confirming that the occupational standard meets the format required
Is based on a clear occupational profile setting out the duties carried out by employees in the occupation and including the skills, knowledge and behaviours which will be applied in the workplace and are derived directly from the duties
✔  Assessing whether any feedback received at occupation proposal stage has been incorporated
✔  Verifying that the occupation profile continues to meet our occupation profile requirements
✔  Confirming that the statements of knowledge, skills and behaviours meet the contents of the guidance in terms of format and structure
✔  Confirming that the statements of skills, knowledge and behaviours meet the contents of the guidance in terms of format and structure
Defines the full competence in an apprenticeship occupation so that, on completion, the new entrant to the occupation is able to carry out the role in any size of employer across any relevant sector
✔  Assessing that the occupation is in demand from a range of employers using commonly understood or similar occupation/job titles and with substantially common occupational profile, knowledge, skills and behaviours
✔  Verifying that the full knowledge, skills and behaviours required for a new entrant is agreed across a range of employers, including reviewing the outcomes of your consultation
Aligns with regulatory requirements and professional recognition and allows the individual to apply for this
✔  Scrutinising the supporting evidence to confirm that the occupational standard meets the requirements of regulatory or professional bodies



You must use the occupational standard part of our online template when writing your draft occupational standard. You can find details of what to include in each of the following sections of the template below:

  • KSBs and related training information
  • qualifications
  • entry requirements
  • professional body alignment
  • assessment methods

This stage builds on the work you have already done to define the occupation profile, with the duties forming the basis of your occupational standard. The duties will be auto-populated in the occupational standard part of the template. However, if you completed your proposal on a pre-February 2018 proposal form, the information provided will not be pre-populated in your occupational standard template. This means there is additional information that you will need to provide at this stage. In these circumstances, you will need to look at our guidance relating to the ‘occupation proposal’ stage. Your RM can advise you on this.

Any information provided for this stage of the process which is needed for the EPA plan stage, will not need to be provided again, although you will have the opportunity to refine it as you move through the process.

Details of how to use the template are contained within it, along with links to requirements.


Before you start, ensure you all know and understand the occupational standard requirements. Your RM can go through the requirements using our apprenticeship standard requirements presentation.

Most trailblazer groups need at least one or two meetings or a workshop (which we can facilitate) to agree the draft occupational standard content. Once agreed, you must consult widely on it to give employers and other relevant organisations who have not been directly involved in your trailblazer group an opportunity to input.

It is up to you how you carry out the consultation, but possible approaches include:

  • setting up meetings with wider employers especially small employers
  • publishing an online survey
  • using personal contacts in other employers to get an additional perspective
  • working with partners, such as representative organisations, trade bodies, sector bodies and professional bodies to share a draft documents with their members
  • asking training providers and end-point assessment organisations that deliver in the sector to share it with employers they work with
  • holding workshops, roundtable discussions or webinars
  • attending training provider network meetings

You will need to leave some time to reflect on the comments you receive and build in any changes you then want to make to your occupational standard.

You will need to attach to your submission details of who you have consulted, how you have consulted them, what the results were and how you have amended the draft occupational standard as a result. During the approvals process, we take into account evidence from your consultation.


In this section of the template you will need to set out the KSBs required to become competent in the duties already identified.

As a group, you will need to decide whether the original occupation duties (and the performance criteria relating to them) provided at the occupation proposal stage need refining; for example, in the light of any feedback received from us.

You will then need to identify the KSBs required to successfully carry out each duty in the occupational profile.

All KSB statements need to be described in terms of what is required of an individual who is fully competent in the occupation, i.e. do not include lower order KSBs that are developed on the way to the higher order KSBs and full competence. The KSBs should be complementary and covered in a similar level of detail.

Some KSBs may be required in relation to more than one duty, meaning there is repetition when you enter the information on the template. This is helpful information for training providers and end-point assessment organisations. You can address any repetition by coding each KSB i.e. K1, K2, S1, S2, B1, B2 etc. Where a KSB is required in relation to multiple duties, you can then simply cite its code after it has been referenced in full once.

Our butcher example explains and illustrates this process



Other qualifications

Beyond English and maths, the apprenticeship itself is the ‘qualification,’ achieved via a robust independent EPA. In some cases, however, a qualification may be mandated for all apprentices in an apprenticeship standard. Where mandated, it must be completed as a ‘gateway’ requirement before the apprentice takes the EPA. Potentially mandated qualifications fall into the following two broad types:

Type 1 – a qualification which accredits occupational competence, for example an NVQ (National Vocational Qualification). Summative assessment in these qualifications duplicates EPA and costs a relatively large amount of money to deliver, drawing resources away from training.

Type 2 - covers off-the job technical qualifications (for example ‘day release’ qualifications) and short awards (e.g. food safety and manual handling certificates) which are usually delivered off-the-job. These qualifications do not accredit occupational competence, do not duplicate EPA and add very little to the cost of the apprenticeship, as the off-the-job training would be required anyway.

Qualifications of either type may be mandated where they are:

  1. a regulatory requirement; or
  2. a requirement of a professional body; or
  3. required by employers in the labour market on such a widespread basis that an apprentice would be significantly disadvantaged without it. This is known as the ‘hard sift’ criterion. A qualification cannot meet this criterion unless it is already being used in the labour market.

In addition, Type 2 qualifications which do not meet one of these criteria may still be mandated where they add no significant cost in off-the-job training and:

  1. provide fuller occupational breadth i.e. duties, knowledge and/or skills than is likely to be covered in the workplace; and/or
  2. provide structure for off-the-job training where there is little history of this for the occupation

A technical qualification of this type can be at a different level (if higher, normally only one level higher) to the  occupational level of the apprenticeship standard as a whole.

The inclusion of a qualification based on being a regulatory, professional body or hard sift requirement in an occupational standard should usually only be a temporary requirement (with the exception of degree apprenticeships). The apprenticeship standard itself should be designed to meet the requirements of a regulatory or professional body and employers in the sector. Over time, as apprenticeship standards gain currency, individuals will no longer be disadvantaged in the job market by not having a specific qualification, and the need to mandate it should fall away. However, we understand that there may be some situations, e.g. a fixed legislative requirement, where this may not be possible.

In the case of both types, qualifications cannot be mandated unless they are already available for use by employers and training providers.

This table sets out our qualifications in an apprenticeship standard requirements

Type 1: Occupational Competence Qualification, including Integrated Degree Apprenticeships
If the regulatory body will not recognise the apprenticeship itself
Evidence required
If the professional body will not recognise the apprenticeship itself
Evidence required
Evidence required
Only for a limited time
(except degree apprenticeships)
The qualification must be at the same level as the apprenticeship standard occupation
Type 2: Off-the-job Technical Qualification, including Non-integrated Degree Apprenticeships
If the regulatory body will not recognise the apprenticeship itself
Evidence required
If the professional body will not recognise the apprenticeship itself
Evidence required
Evidence required
 Trailblazer groups should make a case which shows full occupational  breadth and/or structure re off-the-job
 The qualification does not need to be the same level as the apprenticeship occupation but normally only a single level if higher

Where you are seeking to mandate a qualification, you will need to include details of the qualification in the qualifications section of the template and provide evidence for its inclusion. The route panel will use the evidence provided by you to form a view about whether the qualification can be mandated or not.

Where there is no mandated qualification on an apprenticeship standard, an employer is still free to use one provided the content aligns with the occupational standard and they pay the registration and certification fees.

Degree qualifications

If you develop an apprenticeship at level 6 or 7, a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree can be considered for mandating on the occupational standard. When a degree is mandated, the apprenticeship is called a ‘degree apprenticeship standard.’

As with all apprenticeship standards, degree apprenticeship standards require an EPA that tests both occupational competence and knowledge required for success in the relevant profession.

Our note on degree apprenticeship

standard structure provides information on the two different approaches that can be applied to a degree apprenticeship standards, namely ‘integrated’ or ‘non-integrated.’

Where you are seeking to mandate a degree, you will need to include all the details of the qualification as detailed in the template and provide evidence for its inclusion as detailed. The route panel will use the evidence provided by you to form a view about whether the qualification can be mandated or not.



This section of the template will detail any statutory/regulatory or typical entry requirements.

In order to avoid creating barriers to entry, it is not permissible to set entry requirements for an apprenticeship standard unless they are statutory or regulatory requirements, for example safety or statutory requirements that prevent 16 to 18 year olds working in the occupation.

Some trailblazer groups have chosen to include wording such as ‘Entry requirements will be determined by individual employers, typically x, y, and z on entry.’ Analysis of job descriptions and job adverts will assist you with this.


If professional recognition for the occupation exists, you will have been working with the relevant body or bodies since the occupation proposal stage.

In this section of the template, you will need to detail how the apprenticeship standard aligns to that professional recognition and provide evidence that the professional body or bodies agree that it aligns with their professional recognition. This needs to be via a letter from each relevant body. If a qualification is being included at the request of the professional body, the same letter can cover both points. Suggested wording for the professional body support letter is provided. Make sure you ask any professional body for such a letter well in advance of when you plan to submit your occupational standard.


You are required to set out which assessment methods you envisage using in the EPA, so route panels can give you early feedback on them when they review your occupational standard. However, you do not need to finalise these until you draft your EPA plan.  Therefore, you need to discuss potential methods as you develop your occupational standard.  

Further information on the different types of assessment methods is available


Any recommendations for training or curriculum specification or on-programme continuous assessment must not be included in your occupational standard or EPA plan. They can be included in a separate document and a link to these documents can be provided from your apprenticeship standard’s page on our website. It is not mandatory to produce such documents. However, if you do, they must be freely and readily available. It must be clear that they are recommendations and are not mandatory for employers, training providers or EPAOs. These documents will not be scrutinised as part of the approvals process.


You need to complete and submit the occupational standard part of the template, along with any supporting evidence relating to qualifications or professional body recognition. When you submit the template, you need to confirm that all of the trailblazer group’s members have agreed to the submission’s content.

Your RM must confirm that your draft occupational standard is ready for consideration before you submit it. Subject to this, you can submit the template at any time and we will consider it after the next submissions deadline date.

You will also need to provide your RM with updated information on the membership of your trailblazer group if this has changed.

Details of submission deadlines date, submission checklists and the approvals process.

Contact This Member