In the run up to the launch of the UTC programme, Baker called for an education that encouraged pupils to ‘get their hands dirty’, but the
‘Our goal is for young people to see apprenticeships as a high quality and prestigious path to successful careers’
Foreword to English Apprenticeships: Our 2020 Vision HM Government Dec 2015
Latest statistics for apprenticeship starts continue to provide a rather different picture to that pained by government ministers. It’s true that there have been over 3 million starts since May 2010 and another 800 000 since 2015, but the majority of these have continued to be at Intermediate (GCSE) Level a standard most young people have already reached. Adult workers (often existing staff being reclassified as apprentices to secure training funding) have also benefited the most.
Figures for the period September to November 2016, show a similar story. There were 155,600 new starts, but of these 84,000 were Intermediate Level -and just 58,300 Apprentices were aged under 19.
Apprenticeships continue to be promoted as an alternative to higher education, but by way of comparison, 240 000 UK under 19 year olds accepted university places for September 2016, around one in three of the cohort. In contrast, just 1,700 18 year olds began Higher Level apprenticeships –considered to be equivalent to at least the first year of university study.
It’s noticeable that women outnumber men (51.1% to 48.9%), this reflecting large numbers of starts in social care and low grade clerical work.
With apprenticeship applications continuing to outstrip vacancies, like other programs designed to accommodate ‘non-academic’ young people, apprenticeships have fallen far short.