From education to employment

Decline in intermediate apprenticeship opportunities in comparison with the jump in higher apprenticeships is a major concern

Jane Hickie

The monthly apprenticeship starts to January 2021, and official statistics covering the apprenticeship service and find an apprenticeship were released today (29th April 2021). 

Today’s level 2 and 3 attainment data for 19 year olds shows that as well as being much less likely to secure GCSEs in English and maths or equivalent at age 16, young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are much less likely to catch up in post-16 education.

Previous research, including Impetus’ Youth Jobs Gap series, shows that young people improving their level of qualification roughly halves their chances of not being in employment, education, or training (NEET); with maths and English particularly linked to future.

It’s not the first time that Level 4+ apprenticeships have overtaken Level 2, but the divergence in today’s numbers is huge.

Association of Employment and Learning Providers chief executive Jane Hickie says:

“The decline in intermediate apprenticeship opportunities in comparison with the jump in higher apprenticeships is a major concern, especially when the pandemic is resulting in more young people struggling to find work.  Apprenticeships should be about a ladder of opportunity but you can’t climb a ladder if the bottom rungs are missing.

“The chancellor’s Plan for Jobs incentives for apprenticeships have been welcome but in the medium to longer term, we need a rebalancing of the levy funding system to benefit young people and provide more opportunities at the intermediate level.  The incentives should also be re-tuned to support this rebalancing into the medium term after the pandemic is over.  Funding for 16 to 18 year old apprenticeships should be removed from the levy system and these opportunities should be funded by the DfE’s mainstream budget as they were before 2017.” 

New data shows stagnation in attainment for 19 year olds 

Commenting on the new data Ben Gadsby, Head of Policy and Research at youth charity Impetus, said

“Young people who miss out on the grades at 16 deserve a second chance, not second best. Basic English and maths skills are essential for getting into work and future study, yet tens of thousands of young people are being left behind every year, with the gap between rich and poor stuck for a decade.

“Improving the supply of qualified English and maths teachers in Further Education and supporting colleges to make best use of the national tutoring programme are just two ways to boost attainment for this group.

“Making sure every young person gets the grades must be a central plank of any levelling up agenda. There is no point levelling up places but leaving people behind.”


Apprenticeships and traineeships: April 2021


This publication is an update of the Apprenticeships and traineeships: March 2021 statistics publication and contains:

  • latest monthly apprenticeship starts data, reported to date, covering the first six months of the 2020/21 academic year
  • apprenticeship service statistics (including commitments, redundancies and incentives) as of 01 April 2021
  • adverts and vacancies as published on find an apprenticeship (to 31 March 2021)

Published 29 April 2021

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