From education to employment

“More attractive” Kickstart scheme is beginning to displace apprenticeships

The latest #apprenticeship data was published by the government today (26 Nov). 

Jane Hickie 20May 100x100Association of Employment and Learning Providers managing director Jane Hickie said:

“Unfortunately the Spending Review measures didn’t go far enough in giving training providers confidence that the huge fall in apprenticeship opportunities can be substantially reversed in the coming months. 

“We are now seeing evidence that our big fear in the summer about the Kickstart scheme displacing apprenticeships is being realised because the Kickstart incentives for employers and young people are more attractive and this wasn’t addressed yesterday.  Nor are tweaks to the levy transfer system going to be the answer to restoring smaller employers to their traditional role of being major recruiters of young apprentices; instead SMEs need a standalone apprenticeship budget. 

“The government’s primary focus on jobs programmes without skills training as its response to the pandemic’s impact on the economy is a blunt instrument which will only store up skills gap problems for the future.”

Apprenticeship and traineeships: November 2020

Starts = 322,500 down 18.0% from 2018/19

Learner Participation = 719,000 down 3.2% from 2018/19

All achievements are provisional at this stage. Of learners we expected to complete in 2019/20, we estimate that 54,500 (23.3%) apprenticeships and 55,200 (3.8%) adult (19+) learners undertaking education and training provision have been identified as having an unknown outcome at this stage.

Final figures for 2019/20 show:

  • Since May 2015 there have been 2,211,200 apprenticeship starts and since May 2010 this total stands at 4,588,800
  • Higher apprenticeships accounted for over a quarter of starts (25.6% or 82,500 starts) while Intermediate and Advanced apprenticeships accounted for 74.4% of starts (240,100)
  • Under 19s accounted for 23.6% of starts; 19-24s for 29.5% and those aged 25+ made up 46.8%
  • Apprenticeship standards made up nearly three-quarters of starts (240,700)
  • Starts supported by Apprenticeship Service Account levy funds accounted for 64.9% (209,300) – please see ‘About these statistics’ for more information about ASA levy funds
  • An average of 1.7% of employees started an apprenticeship in public sector organisations between April 2017 and March 2020.
  • During the period since the start of lockdown (23 March to 31 July 2020), there were 60,860 starts – a 45.5% drop compared to the same period in 2018/19. Of these starts:
    • Learners aged 25 and over accounted for 61.6% (54.5% in the previous year).
    • Intermediate apprenticeships accounted for 25.6% (36.1% in the previous year).
    • Higher apprenticeships accounted for 31.4% (17.7% in the previous year).

Apprenticeships and traineeships statistics covering the 2019 to 2020 academic year in England, with additional official statistics relevant to coronavirus (COVID-19).

This analysis has been included to provide wider contextual information on the apprenticeship programme as a whole.

Comparisons of measures during the period affected by the COVID-19 lockdown                                               

For the period reported between 23 March and 31 July 2020 and compared to the same period in 2019 (Table 1):

  • participation fell by 27.8% – to 75,870 from 105,040
  • starts fell by 45.5% – to 60,860 from 111,570
  • Achievements reported so far show a fall of 31.6% but this is provisional (see ‘about these statistics’)

These decreases are all significantly larger than seen in the rest of the academic year before COVID-19 restrictions. In the period between 1 August 2019 and 22 March 2020 and compared to the same period in 2018/19:

  • participation increased by 3.7%
  • starts fell by 7.1%
  • Achievements fell by 14.3%

Table 1: Comparisons of participation, starts and achievements before and after the COVID-19 period 

  2018/19 2019/20
  August to 22nd March March 23rd to July August to 22nd March March 23rd to July
Total apprenticeship participation 647,520 105,040 671,220 75,870
Total apprenticeship starts 281,810 111,570 261,670 60,860
Total apprenticeship achievements 116,580 68,570 99,970 46,930

Note: Achievements are provisional at this stage – see ‘about these statistics’ for further information.

Starts during the period affected by the COVID-19 lockdown          

There were 60,860 apprenticeship starts reported between 23 March and 31 July 2020. That represents a 45.5% drop compared to the 115,570 reported for the same period last year. 

Of the starts reported between 23 March and 31 July 2020 (Table 2):

  • Learners aged 25 and over make up 61.6% of starts; this was 54.5% in the previous year.
  • Intermediate apprenticeships accounted for 25.6% of starts; this was 36.1% in 2018/19.
  • Higher apprenticeships accounted for 31.4% of starts; this was 17.7% in 2018/19.
  • Business, Administration and Law, and Health, Public Services and Care were the dominant sector subject areas comprising 67.5% of starts in 2019/20. These were also the main sector subject areas the previous year, but they represented a smaller proportion of starts (62.0%).

To note also, starts reported for the period August 2019 to February 2020 (246,300) were down by 6.4% on the equivalent period in 2018/19 (263,100), with starts in all months (except September) being lower than those reported at the same point in 2018/19.

Table 2: Apprenticeship starts between 23 March and 31 July in 2018/19 and 2019/20

    2018/19 % of 2018/19 total 2019/20 % of 2019/20 total
Total starts 111,570  100.0% 60,860  100.0%
Age Under 19  18,710  16.8%   6,270  10.3%
19-24  32,070  28.7% 17,100  28.1%
25+  60,790  54.5% 37,490  61.6%
Level Intermediate 40,300  36.1%  15,550  25.6%
Advanced 51,540  46.2% 26,170  43.0%
Higher  19,740  17.7%  19,130  31.4%
Sector subject area Agriculture, Horticulture and Animal Care 1,410  1.3%  780  1.3%
Arts, Media and Publishing 250  ~ 250  ~
Business, Administration and Law  34,160  30.6%  19,250  31.6%
Construction, Planning and the Built Environment  2,480  2.2% 1,320  2.2%
Education and Training  1,700  1.5%  1,530  2.5%
Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies  11,540  10.3% 6,600  10.8%
Health, Public Services and Care 35,040  31.4% 21,840  35.9%
Information and Communication Technology 6,080  5.4% 3,740  6.1%
Leisure, Travel and Tourism 2,280  2.0% 910  1.5%
Retail and Commercial Enterprise 16,630  14.9%  4,630  7.6%
Science and Mathematics  10  ~  20  ~

Apprenticeship incentive payments 

The government introduced new incentive payments in August to support employers to hire new apprentices between 1st August 2020 and 31st January 2021. Employers are eligible to apply for this incentive if the employee is new to the company. This can include recruiting an apprentice who has been made redundant by another employer.

The incentive scheme will give employers who hire apprentices either £2,000 for apprentices aged 16 to 24 or £1,500 for apprentices aged 25 and over. 

50% of the payment is made 90 days after an apprentice starts in training, and the remaining amount is paid after completion of 365 days of the apprenticeship. The payments for the incentive are subject to the apprentice completing the 90 days and 365 days of the apprenticeship.

As of 12th November 2020, the number of apprentices recorded on the Apprenticeship Service for whom incentive claims have been submitted by employers totalled 8,000:

  • The number of apprenticeship service accounts who made the submissions for incentive payments was 2,960
  • The proportion of the submissions for those aged between 16 and 24 and 25 or over are 81% and 19% respectively (Table 3).
  • The proportions by apprenticeship level (Table 4):
  1. Intermediate (level 2) accounted for 33%.
  2. Advanced (level 3) accounted for 44%.
  3. Higher (level 4+) accounted for 23%.
  • By month, planned starts for apprentices who had been submitted for an incentive were (Table 3 and 4):
  1. August: 12%.
  2. September: 59%.
  3. October: 26%.
  4. November: 3%
  5. December and January 2021: <1%.
Table 3: Table showing the number of planned starts on the apprenticeship incentive scheme by month and age category
Month 16-24 25+ All
Aug-20 710 270 980
Sep-20 3,810 940 4,750
Oct-20 1,730 310 2,040
Nov-20 200 40 230
Dec-20 0 0 0
Jan-21 10 0 10
Total 6,450 1,550 8,000
Table 4: Table showing the number of planned starts on the apprenticeship incentive scheme by month and level category
Month Level 2 Level 3 Level 4 Level 5 Level 6 Level 7 All
Aug-20 400 420 40 10 80 50 980
Sep-20 1,400 2,140 330 60 580 230 4,750
Oct-20 780 850 140 40 190 50 2,040
Nov-20 60 140 30 0 0 0 230
Dec-20 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Jan-21 0 10 0 0 0 0 10
Total 2,630 3,550 540 110 850 330 8,000

Employers reporting the withdrawal of apprentices due to redundancy during COVID

From the 30th July 2020, employers have been able to record on the Apprenticeship Service (AS) if an apprenticeship has ended due to a redundancy.  This will provide more accurate and timely data on redundancies than that captured via the ‘withdrawal reason’ on the ILR, and will be a reliable ongoing source of data. 

Currently this data does not capture all apprenticeships as not all non-levy employers are using the AS currently, but from 1st April 2021 all new starts must be reported and managed through the AS. Additionally, employers can record information about redundancies at a later date on the AS, therefore the information can suffer from ‘data lag’ with information being recorded weeks or months after the redundancy actually happened. 

As of 12 November 2020, the number of apprenticeship redundancies reported so far from August was 1,190, of which: 

  • The proportions by apprenticeship level were (Table 5):
  1. Intermediate (level 2): 18%
  2. Advanced (level 3): 24%
  3. Higher (level 4+): 58%
  • The proportion by age group was (Table 6):
  1. Under 19: 22%
  2. 19-24: 35%
  3. 25 and over: 43%
  • Levy paying organisations accounted for 96%

In addition to the 1,190 redundancies, a further 880 redundancies were reported in 2020 prior to August, i.e. the new reporting feature has captured some delayed reporting prior to August. As it was not possible for an employer to provide redundancy as a reason for an apprenticeship ending prior to 30th July, data for months before August are underrepresented and have been included for transparency only.

Table 5: Total number of apprenticeship redundancies by month the apprentice was made redundant and level of apprentice reported in the AS system as of 12th November 2020
Month Apprenticeship level Month total
Intermediate  Higher Advanced
August 70 130 410 610
September 90 90 180 360
October 40 70 80 190
November 0 10 20 30
Grand Total 210 290 690 1,190
Table 6: Total number of apprenticeship redundancies by month the apprentice was made redundant and age of apprentice reported in the AS system as of 12th November 2020
Month Age of Apprentice Month total
Under 19 19-24 25+
August 120 250 240 610
September 90 110 150 360
October 50 50 90 190
November 0 10 20 30
Grand Total 260 420 510 1,190

Additional information

To further support apprentices who have been made redundant, or who are at risk of redundancy, we have introduced the Redundancy Support Service for Apprentices (ReSSA).

The service is made up of three main elements:

  • Providing apprentices with advice and guidance on the impact of redundancy
  • Signposting apprentices to local and national support services
  • An apprenticeship vacancy sharing service to make redundant apprentices aware of new opportunities

Breaks and withdrawals during the period affected by COVID-19 lockdown

Apprentices may take a break in learning where they plan to return to the same apprenticeship programme. The decision to take a break in learning, the reason for the break and its expected duration must be agreed with the employer. This could include medical treatment, parental leave or leave for other personal reasons. Breaks in learning must be reported on the ILR and the employer should revise the apprenticeship agreement if required. A break in learning should not be recorded for short term breaks such as holidays, or when employment or an apprenticeship agreement has been terminated. 

In addition to breaks in learning, the ILR hold a field to record whether a learner has ‘withdrawn’ from an apprenticeship. 

Analysis of breaks of learning in 2019/20 shows that:

  • more breaks have been recorded in 2019/20 compared to previous years; 77,540 breaks were recorded (approximately 1 in 10 of those participating) compared to 28,080 in 2018/19 and 33,830 in 2017/18 (around 1 in 25 participants).
  • the majority of breaks in 2019/20 occurred after the COVID-19 restrictions were imposed on 23 March 2020 – (70%, or 54,330 breaks). This compares to 39% in 2018/19 and 35% in 2017/18.
  • Apprentices aged 25 and over were more likely to have a break in learning – approximately 13% of those participating, compared to 8% for 19-24s and 6% for Under 19s

Analysis of the withdrawal field in 2019/20 shows that:

  • approximately 15% of participating learners (113,430) withdrew from their apprenticeship – in line with previous years.
  • relatively fewer withdrew in the period affected by COVID-19 restrictions (27% of withdrawals) compared to the same period in previous years (around a third in 2017/18 and 2018/19). This was balanced out by relatively more withdrawing before 23 March in 2019/20 compared to 2017/18 and 2018/19.

Apprenticeship adverts and vacancies

The apprenticeship adverts and vacancies in this section are as published on the Find An Apprenticeship (FAA) website. They represent only a subset of the total number of vacancies available across the marketplace as a whole, as many apprenticeships are not advertised through this website.

Monthly vacancies published on the Find An Apprenticeship website were generally lower in the 2019/20 and 202/21 academic years compared to the same month the year before (Table 7). 

In the months prior to the introduction of coronavirus restrictions (August 2019 to February 2020), monthly vacancies, with the exception of February 2020, were between 19 and 33 per cent below the equivalent figures in 2018/19. 

Vacancies in the months after coronavirus restrictions were implemented (on 23 March) saw a large fall compared to the previous year – down by over 80 per cent in April and May and by two thirds in June. 

Between August and October, vacancies have remained lower than previous years but were more in line with the differences seen prior to restrictions. 

September and October vacancies were both 17% lower than in 2019.

Table 7: Apprenticeship vacancies reported on the FAA website to October 2020 along with the corresponding 2019/20 and 2018/19 figures, by month

Academic year Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May June July
2020/21 6,920  8,150  8,170                   
2019/20  10,490  9,760  9,900   8,470  5,600  8,840  13,660  7,940  2,120   1,850  4,030  9,570 
2018/19 14,060  12,050  14,260  12,650  7,110  12,190  13,030  13,100  10,900  13,030  12,100  12,240 

Apprenticeship adverts in the months after coronavirus restrictions were implemented (on 23 March) showed large falls compared to the previous year – down by over 88 per cent in April and May 2020 and by nearly three quarters in June 2020. 

Advert numbers have recovered a little from that point but are still lower than in the previous year. The latest October numbers were a quarter lower than in 2019.    

Additional tables showing monthly adverts and vacancies by level can be found via the ‘download associated files’ link at the top of the publication (see ‘supporting tables – vacancies and adverts by level’).

Skills Tool Kit (Experimental Statistics) 

The Skills Toolkit was launched on 28 April 2020 to help people build their skills during the coronavirus outbreak and beyond. 

As of 01 November 2020 there have been 1,323,450 page views on the skills toolkit website. This data is reported as a part of systems monitoring. Some users might access the page from more than one device and, if so, will be counted more than once in the figures.

In the ‘Apprenticeship and traineeships: October 2020’ statistics publication we estimated that as of 30 September 2020 there had been 97,600 course registrations. As of 01 November 2020 there have been an estimated 119,000 course registrations. 

  • These are experimental statistics and rely on website analytics and the method of processing these is subject to change.
  • Course providers collect data on registrations to their courses through various methods and separately submit returns to the Department for Education relating to The Skills Toolkit.  These returns are then assessed and aggregated. 
  • Estimates are provisional as there may be a lag in data reporting. 
  • Some providers may be unable to identify if course registrations resulted from ‘The Skills Toolkit’ campaign or other means. The numbers provided only include data which, are deemed robust enough for including at this stage, so may not including some genuine registrations and is likely to represent an undercount of the true number.   
  • All providers are asked to outline their methods of reporting and explain why they are confident that the figures they provide represent an accurate view of the number of course registrations they have received, as a result of The Skills Toolkit.  Providers are asked to report a change in their methods of reporting or any errors/issues they encounter as quickly as possible. Provider reports are checked for unusual patterns.
  • Since the July update to this release where course providers collectively reported 136,000 course registrations a month after the Toolkit was launched, some course providers have made The Skills Toolkit team aware of issues in their reporting. For example, providers have made changes to their analytics software and to the structure of their websites affecting the number of course starts they report. As a result, the number of registrations was revised down in our October release to be, as of 30 September 2020 there have been 97,615 course registrations and 1,100,260 page views
  • As part of the expansion of The Skills Toolkit in September 2020, we improved the reporting and quality assurance processes. As part of this work we have identified issues with 12 courses and have removed these from our reported number of registrations.
  • As a result we are now collecting more robust estimates of registrations, but we continue to work with providers on improving this further. 


Apprenticeship and traineeships: November 2020


This publication contains finalised statistics covering the full 2019 to 2020 academic year on:

  • apprenticeships (aged 16 and over) including official statistics covering the apprenticeship service and the public sector apprenticeship return
  • traineeships (aged 16 to 24)

Additional information relevant to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak will also be published.

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