Figures released by the Skills Funding Agency at the end of June, show just 375 000 apprenticeship starts for the 9months 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.