From education to employment

Number of starting apprenticeships in England has fallen by a third

Munira Wilson, MP for Twickenham

The number of people starting apprenticeships has fallen by 172,000 since 2015/16, House of Commons Library research analysed by the Liberal Democrats has revealed. 

This drastic fall equates to the number of apprenticeships starts falling by one-third since 2015/16. The Lib Dems slammed the figures as evidence of a “legacy of failure” by this Conservative government.

It comes as Rishi Sunak is in St Ives to promote his policy to scrap university courses to fund 100,000 apprenticeships. In St Ives, there has been a 39% drop in the number of apprenticeship starts, from 740 in 2015/16 to 450 in 2022/23.

Rishi Sunak’s constituency has seen a 40% decline in the number of apprenticeship starts, falling from 5,080 in 2015/16 to 3,020 in 2022/23. In Education Secretary Gillian Keegan’s seat of Chichester, there were 30% fewer apprenticeship starts in 2022/23 than in 2015/16. 

The Liberal Democrats are calling for the apprenticeship levy to be scrapped. Under current rules, firms with an annual wage bill of above £3m must set aside 0.5% of their payroll for apprenticeships. However, many organisations are unable to use the funds, where levy money is then reclaimed by the Treasury if remaining unused for two years. This has led to the number of apprenticeship starts falling every year since the controversial levy was introduced.

Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Munira Wilson, said:

“The Conservatives have broken our apprenticeship system and betrayed young people for years, this election is no different. 

“Young people across the country are being let down by a Conservative government that is failing to offer them the skills they need to thrive.  

“As the cost-of-living crisis continues, it is vital to get our economy growing by investing in the skills of our next generation.

“This Conservative government has overseen a legacy of failure. Now, across massive parts of the country, it’s only the Liberal Democrats who can send the Conservatives a message and kick them out of office.”

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