Monthly apprenticeships update: July starts down 43% on 2016

Apprenticeship starts for July are down 43 per cent on the same month in 2016 – but up 21 per cent on last year.

There have been 25,200 starts recorded so far in July 2018, compared with 44,100 in June 2016 according to the Education and Skills Funding Agency’s monthly apprenticeship statistics update, published this morning.

The 2016 figures are final, whereas the 2018 figures are provisional. July 2016 is a better comparator than July 2017 given that there was a huge drop in starts following the introduction of the levy the previous month.

There have been 369,700 apprenticeship starts reported to date between August 2017 and July 2018, which is the provisional full year number of starts for the 2017/18 academic year.

This compares to 491,300 and 503,700 reported in the equivalent period in 2016/17 and 2015/16 respectively.

It means that provisional starts for 2017/18 are down by a quarter on last year and 27 per cent on the pre-levy year before.

Mark Dawe, chief executive of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers, is not impressed.

“The chancellor has evidently smelt the coffee by ordering a review and the education select committee has got its finger on the pulse on what needs to be done to turn these disastrous numbers around,” he said today.

“As we head towards Brexit with sectors such as hospitality and care homes crying out for more home grown apprentices, DfE ministers have got to finally take action by removing the recently introduced policy barriers that disengaged smaller businesses and dramatically reduced the apprenticeship opportunities for young people.”

For the monthly stats, comparing first recorded starts for July 2018 to final figures for July 2017 gives an increase of 21 per cent.

However, starts for the month in 2017 were down 53 per cent on July 2016, according to final statistics for the year. There were just 20,900 starts in July 2017, compared with 44,100 in 2016.

According to the commentary published alongside this morning’s statistics, “caution should be taken” in interpreting the figures as they are not final and they will be “subject to change”.

Apprenticeships and skills minister Anne Milton said: “It’s great to see the figures showing that there continues to be a growing number of people, of all ages, taking up our new, higher quality apprenticeship opportunities.

“Through our reforms we wanted to see high quality apprenticeships offered so it’s good to see that of all apprenticeship starts 43.7 per cent are on the new high quality apprenticeship standards – that’s up from 4.8 per cent this time last year.”

She continued: “The range is growing with 350 apprenticeship standards now available for a wide variety of jobs from planning officers to agriculture to accountancy. There is something for everyone.

“Change is never easy but business and the public sector are now embracing the opportunities our new apprenticeship reforms have given them.”