Apprenticeship starts well below Cameron’s target

election_cameron-h_3253236bFigures released by the Skills Funding Agency at the end of June,  show  just  375 000 apprenticeship starts for the 9 months between August 2014 and April 2015. Only 100 000 of the new starts are by young people under 19 and another 125 000 by those aged 19-24.  In otherwords, 4 out of 10 starts are by those over 25, most of whom will be existing employees.

6 out of 10 starts are at Intermediate (GCSE) Level  – with  just 13,200 at Higher Level. The figures also show more starts by women (52%) than men. This reflects the large number  in Business, Administration and Law (approaching 1 in 3 of all starts) and particularly in Health and Care (1 in 4 ). Just over 1 in 7 starts have been  in Manufacturing and Engineering and only 1 in 20  in Construction.

Despite a relatively high media profile, apprenticeships  are not expanding in the way they are being promoted. On the contrary, start figures are levelling off.  Unless there’s  a  dramatic change in direction  the new government will struggle to get anywhere near its election promise of  creating another 3 million for young people  during this Parliament.

The statistics also show the UK workforce continues to be more highly qualified than ever, with 81% of workers having reached level 2,  62.6%  to Level 3 and 41.0%   to at least Level 4 (equivalent to first year degree). With 80% of the new jobs being created said to be ‘low skilled’ , despite what government leaders might say, standards in education and training remain well ahead.

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