Apprenticeship Starts are down again

DfE today (12 Jul) published their latest Apprenticeships and Traineeships Aug-April 2017/18 statistical release.

There have been 290,500 apprenticeship starts reported to date between August 2017 and April 2018 for the 2017/18 academic year, which is a drop of 34% compared to 2016/2017.

This compares to 440,300 and 384,500 starts reported in the equivalent period in 2016/17 and 2015/16 respectively. 

There has been a big increase in the number of people starting on the new high-quality apprenticeship standards – 119,500 were reported in the first three quarters of 16/17 in comparison to 11,000 reported at this time last year – an increase of 986%.

The number of people starting higher level apprenticeships has increased by 12.5% on 16/17 – and has gone from 19,200 at this time in 15/16 to 36,000 this year.

46.8% of apprenticeship starts since the levy was introduced have been supported by levy-payers which shows that employers are working well with the new system. In the first three quarters of 17/18, the proportion of levy-supported starts was 47.2%, even though only around 2% of employers pay the levy.

Responding to the figures, 

Apprenticeships and Skills Minister Anne Milton said:

“While the number of people starting apprenticeships has decreased overall, this is not unexpected. There is good news in these figures and I’m pleased to see the number of people starting on new, higher-quality apprenticeships has increased by almost 1000% this year.

“There are also tens of thousands more people starting on higher level apprenticeships, which are available in a range of cutting edge industries, and more people achieving their apprenticeships.

“Quality is more important than quantity, and our shake-up of the apprenticeship system has been all about making sure apprenticeships, developed by businesses themselves, give people the skills they need to get the career they want. The levy is an extremely important part of that and it is doing the job. Of note is that 47% of apprenticeship starts have been supported by levy payers.”

Ben Rowland, Co-Founder of Arch Apprentices said:

“Change always challenges our thinking and approaches to business which is why we believe there’s been a reduction of starts year on year. While some sectors are still getting to grips on how to utilise their levy effectively, and how to use it to scale, others have embedded it in their talent acquisition and retention strategy. Particular successes we’ve seen has been technologically-led businesses, like the fintech industry, but traditional sectors like insurance have also been harnessing the Apprenticeship Levy effectively too.

"We believe that once autumn hits and businesses are faced with the prospect of losing their levy funds, it will set the fuel needed for them to start facing the fact that the Apprenticeship Levy is something that cannot be ignored”

Stephen Evans, Chief Executive, Learning and Work Institute, said:

"It is unsurprising that apprenticeship starts for 2018 are substantially lower than a year ago, given the spike in figures in April 2017. It is of greater concern that starts are down 39% when compared with the same period in 2016. I am particularly concerned that there are 50,000 fewer apprenticeships for 16-24 year olds in the year so far compared to last year. This means a smaller proportion of this age group are doing apprenticeships, and we already compared poorly to other countries.

"Our new Youth Commission, launched this week, will look at how to tackle this and improve education and employment opportunities. The Apprenticeship Levy and other reforms are built on the right principles. But we need changes, including looking at funding for apprentices for younger people, the introduction of an Apprentice Premium to widen access and tougher underpinning of quality. The Government should publish more regular data on outcomes including apprentice’s long-term pay and job prospects. This should have at least as much attention as starts numbers."

Petra Wilton, director of external affairs for the Chartered Management Institute, said: 

"While overall apprenticeship starts are down we're now seeing encouraging growth in management apprenticeships. They are clearly already helping to close the productivity gap whilst harnessing new talents. CMI data on degree apprentices show over half are women, half are under the age of 30, and 47% are from economically deprived regions. This is an employer-led policy, and with a need for 1.5m new managers by 2024, apprenticeships are starting to help fill these gaps."

John Cope, CBI Head of Education and Skills, said:

“This stark drop in apprenticeship starts serves as a reminder that the apprenticeship levy is not working as intended. If we don’t significantly reform the levy quickly, companies will find it harder to invest in the quality apprenticeships and skills training they value so highly.

“The Government has accepted the need for levy reform and is working with businesses to improve the system, but we do need to pick up the pace.

“We will continue to press the Government for more flexibility in the levy, by permitting employers to ‘pool’ their funds and allowing more transfers through their supply chain, and will support the Institute for Apprenticeships to speed up the approval of apprenticeship standards.”

BT Head of Apprenticeships Ann Potterton said:

“BT has recruited and trained apprentices for over sixty years and they’re still crucial to BT’s talent strategy; ensuring we maintain and develop a highly skilled workforce. BT and Openreach have embraced the levy and the recent reforms, using the opportunity to broaden our trainee engineer programme; grow our existing programmes; and create new programmes to develop the future skills that our new and existing staff need.” 

Barclays Early Careers Director Mike Thompson said:

“For Barclays, the apprenticeship programme has been a win-win benefitting us and the apprentices themselves. Being able to mould the skills developed by our workforce has paid dividends as many of the apprentices graduate to more senior roles within the business. None of Barclays’ apprentices were in education, employment or training when they joined the bank. Today, many of them are successfully working their way up, and in every part of the business, and contributing to Barclays’ achievements.

“The introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy should be seen as a huge opportunity. Establishing your own apprenticeship scheme can seem daunting, but there is huge support out there to help any company interested in setting one up. There are countless benefits that come with bringing apprentices on board - 80 per cent of companies that have run an apprenticeship programme report a significant increase in employee retention and 76 per cent have reported an increase in workplace productivity. Providing an apprenticeship programme can also be good for business, with 81 per cent of consumers favouring a company that takes on apprentices.

“The Apprenticeship Levy benefits employees as much as their employers and ensures people of all ages and backgrounds have a chance to progress in life, provided they get the right support. Having a clear career path for apprentices following their graduation ensures they continue to develop and feel that their apprenticeship is just the start of an exciting career journey. The Levy really does present a great opportunity and is a huge incentive for employers to hire apprentices. Any business that’s paying the Levy should consider it as an investment and not a tax. Barclays is encouraging companies to seize this opportunity, identify and address any current or future skill gaps in their business and create a workforce tailored to their specific needs. It’s a chance to invest in the long-term health of your business and your workforce. Hiring apprentices is a very good way of bringing in a rich, broad, diverse talent set to your business.”

Mark Dawe, CEO, AELP says:

‘We can only repeat what we have said before.  It’s time for the government to act and suspending the co-investment requirement for SMEs and young people is the right place to start.’

Apprenticeship and levy statistics: June 2018

This morning new figures from the Department for Education reveal that the number of apprenticeship starts have fallen significantly, once again, which brings the effectiveness of the new apprenticeship levy into question, highlighting the need for organisations to make the most of their levy funding - another successive quarter of decline since the government's introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy in April 2017. This is bad news as the government has a target of creating 3m new apprentices by 2020.

There have been 261,200 apprenticeship starts reported to date between August 2017 and March 2018 for the 2017/18 academic year. This compares to 362,400 and 346,300 starts reported in the equivalent period in 2016/17 and 2015/16 respectively. This is a drop of 27.92% from last year's figures. 

DfE today (14 June) published their statistics covering latest monthly apprenticeship starts, apprenticeship service registrations and commitments, and apprenticeship levy information. Many business support the apprenticeships programme but are calling on government to implement urgent reforms. 


Apprenticeship and levy statistics: May 2018

DfE today (17 May) published their statistics covering latest monthly apprenticeship starts, apprenticeship service registrations and commitments, and apprenticeship levy information.

Between August 2017 and February 2018 there were 232,700 apprenticeship starts (reported to date) compared to 309,000 apprenticeship starts between August 2016 and February 2017 reported at the same point last year.

In February 2018 there were 21,800 apprenticeship starts, compared to 36,400 starts in February 2017 reported at this point last year.

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