Just 15 per cent of levy-funded apprentices to date are aged 16 to 18, according to experimental government statistics published today.
The new Department for Education figures, based on commitments made through the apprenticeship service since May, appear to make a mockery of Conservative party election manifesto commitments to support young people into apprenticeships.
They show that of the 18,600 ‘fully agreed’ commitments made through the service to July 31, just 2,900 were for apprentices aged under 19.
A further 6,000 commitments were for apprentices aged 19 to 24, while 9,700 – more than half – were for those aged 25 or older.
It comes after the Conservative party promised to “deliver our commitment to create 3 million apprenticeships for young people by 2020″ in its manifesto ahead of the June general election.
A commitment is defined as “where a potential apprentice, who is expected to go on to start an apprenticeship, has been recorded in the system”, according to the text accompanying today’s statistics.
For a commitment to be fully agreed it needs to have agreement from both the organisation and the training provider.
The statistics, which are described as experimental, do not reflect all apprenticeship starts since May as they only cover apprenticeships in levy-funded companies that use the apprenticeship service.
The Association of Employment and Learning Providers’ chief policy officer Simon Ashworth said: “As AELP exactly predicted, levy paying employers are already using half of their levy to place existing adult workers on to apprenticeships when at this time of the year.
“We would normally expect the recruitment focus to be more on school and sixth form leavers.
He added: “It’s too soon to draw solid conclusions until we see the official starts data are published next month, but we are very concerned that the funding reforms for the programme are not providing sufficient incentive for employers, both large and small, to take on 16 to 18 year olds as apprentices.”