The proportion of 25+ apprenticeships has gone back up to levels last seen before the failed 24+ apprentice loans system, provisional figures out today have revealed.

The figures, published in the Statistical First Release (SFR), suggest a full-year growth in apprenticeship numbers across all age groups — but the biggest growth was among those aged 25 or above.

In 2014/15, the number of apprenticeship starts was provisionally put at 492,700 [click here and view table 20.1]. Of these, 210,100 were aged 25 or above — a rise of 33.2 per cent, or 52,400, from the same figures last year [click here and view table 18.1].

And further comparing provisional figures, the 25+ age group made up 42.6 per cent of all apprenticeship starts last year, versus 36.5 per cent (157,700) in 2013/14, and 44.9 (222,200) the previous year.

Final figures for 2013/14 showed that 36.7 per cent (161,600) of all apprenticeship starts were in the 25+ group, which was was lower than in previous years — 45.1 per cent (230,300) in 2012/13 and 44 per cent (229,300) in 2011/12. Final figures for 20145/15 are due out next month.

The troubled, and ultimately scrapped, 24+ advanced learning loans for apprenticeships are widely acknowledged to have been responsible for the 2013/14 fall.

In quarter four 2014/15, the 25+ age group was provisionally behind 50.9 per cent (55,900) of all starts, up from 49.1 per cent (58,000) in 2013/14.

Meanwhile, quarter four starts across the ages were down 1.5 per cent on the same period last year to 109,900 (from 118,100).

However, the overall number of apprenticeship starts in 2014/15 rose provisionally by 13.9 per cent, from 432,400 in the same figures last year to 492,700 this year, which halts the decline of the previous two years.

Skills Minister Nick Boles said the government was committed to “making sure apprenticeships deliver for individuals, businesses and the economy”.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has yet to comment on the rise in 25+ apprenticeships.