Statistics from the Skill Funding Agency show a fall in the number of apprenticeships starts for the twelve months to July 2014 –a total of 423,500 down from 510,000. This is mostly the result of a fall in the number of ‘adult’ (over 25) apprentices and in the practice where employers re-categorise existing workers. There has been a small increase in the number of under 19 year olds, though the proportion of adult apprentices at Level 2 (GCSE level) continues to be just as high. At Advanced Level the majority of apprentice starts are now by those under 25, although at just 35 000, the amount of under 19 year olds is only a fraction of those starting A-levels in full-time education. There has been a fall in Higher Level (equivalent to first year university) starts. At less than 9000, these make up fewer than 3% of new apprenticeships.
New and undated apprenticeship specifications will be in place for 2018, designed by employer representatives across the various sectors, but, as our research argues, the main reason for the failure of apprenticeships to provide real alternatives for young people is a jobs and employment problem. With over 75 % of new jobs created being elementary or low-skilled, most employers don’t need apprentices.