Sector Response to 61% drop in Apprenticeship starts

The DfE has released their Statistical First Release on the number of Apprenticeship starts from 1st May to 31st July 2017 (which is the first quarter after the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy). Here is a link to the SFR Apprenticeship Starts report. 

On page 7 of the report the DfE state: Between February and April 2017, there was an increase in apprenticeship starts compared to the same point a year earlier (174,100 and 118,800 respectively), an increase of 47%. Between May and July 2017 (quarter 4 of the 2016/17 academic year), apprenticeship starts have decreased to 43,600 from 113,000 over the same period in the year before (quarter 4 of the 2015/16 academic year), a decrease of 61%.

With the implementation of the Apprenticeship Levy, employers now have 24 months to spend funds in their apprenticeship service accounts. 

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

"Feedback we have had from levy paying employers has shown they are taking their time to maximise opportunities for the levy and they plan to increase their demand for apprenticeships."

“Our apprenticeship reforms have put control back into the hands of employers so they will gain the skilled workforce they need to compete globally.

“We know that the last year has been a period of huge change for employers but it is right that they are taking their time to plan ahead and maximise the opportunities the apprenticeship levy can bring.”

The DfE spokesperson further highlighted the following figures: " We have seen over 1.1 million apprenticeship starts to date (since May 2015).

"We are transforming the skills landscape to ensure there are high quality apprenticeship opportunities for millions of people of all ages and from all backgrounds.

"The total investment in apprenticeships in England will be £2.45 billion by 2019/20; double what was spent in 2010-11."


MarkDawe 100x100Mark Dawe, Chief Executive, Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) said:

“Sadly we saw these numbers coming long before the levy even started because of the way the new funding system has been designed.  Until we see the September starts, we don’t know whether the 3 million target is under threat but the numerical target isn’t really important here.  What is needed are changes that will restore incentives for employers to recruit young apprentices and a guaranteed minimum budget for non-levy payers’ apprenticeships which will ensure that there are opportunities in the many areas of the country without large employers.  

“AELP is receiving plenty of anecdotal and factual evidence from its members that the government’s own social mobility agenda is being undermined by the levy reforms with fewer lower level apprenticeships available to offer a ladder of opportunity and the damage is also being done in sectors that are crucial for the post-Brexit economy such as hospitality and health and social care. 

“We therefore need a proper debate about future funding systems and approaches in anticipation of the levy being used up by levy payers.  This has to take a hard look at the barriers which are putting off employers from taking on apprentices such as the level of financial contribution required from them and the amount of time mandated for off-the-job training within an apprenticeship.”


Stephen Evans LW 100x100Stephen Evans, Chief Executive, Learning and Work Institute comments:

“Today's data show some worrying signs. The headlines will be grabbed by the 61% fall in apprenticeship starts since the Levy's introduction. It's too early to tell if this is teething problems, a more permanent problem, or the result of apprenticeship starts being brought in before the Levy's introduction (in the three months before the Levy, starts were up 47%). Our concerns over quality and access remain, there's still time to address these so we have a world class apprenticeship system.

“The data also show significant falls in adult participation in Further Education, including English and Maths, Level 2, Traineeships, offender learning, and community learning. We all know the economic and social benefits of learning, so these continued falls represent a simmering national crisis. We need investment and innovation to break out of this downward spiral, to make Britain a learning nation.”


vince cable100x100Vince Cable, Leader of the Liberal Democrats and former Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, said:

“As Secretary of State I presided over a huge increase in the quantity and quality of Apprenticeships. It was a system that gave millions a chance to develop new skills and find work. The Conservatives are trashing that legacy.
“It is damning that this government are giving new apprentices such a poor deal. Hundreds of thousands of people will lose out from the opportunity to enter high skilled work.
“We should be working towards a system that helps all people, no matter their background, get an opportunity to get ahead in life. These figures expose a major setback towards that goal.”


Angela Murray100x100Angela Middleton, Chairman and Founder of apprenticeships consultancy of MiddletonMurray comments:

“The news of the 61% drop in apprenticeship applications highlights the widespread lack of understanding of what the levy means for employers – and ultimately, how it can benefit their business.

"Since the Apprenticeship Levy was introduced earlier this year, companies with a pay bill over £3m+ must pay a monthly fee that goes towards hiring and upskilling apprentices or existing employees, and the government will top this up.

"More industries than ever are looking to automate processes, where possible, so we must invest in quality jobs. The levy is a measure that will help employers equip the next generation of workers with the best possible skills that we need going forward.

"The 61% drop points to a staggering misunderstanding of the levy and we must raise awareness of its manifold benefits now, before it is too late.”

What do you think about the SFR report on the drop in the number of Apprenticeship starts after the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy? 

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel shared a video in channel. 15 hours 8 minutes ago

The three things Rishi Sunak needs to address in...

Senior IFS Research Economist Jonathan Cribb looks at the Chancellor's options for the Budget. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, has...

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page