Monthly apprenticeships update: February starts up 16% but down on 2017

Apprenticeship starts for the period August 2018 to February 2019 are up 10 per cent on the previous year – but 18 per cent down for the same period in 2016/17 – the year before the levy reforms were introduced, figures published this morning show.

Provisional figures for February 2019 show 25,300 starts, up 16 per cent on the 21,800 provisional starts published this time last year but still well down on the final figures for the same month in 2017 before the levy was introduced.

FE Week analysis of progress towards the government’s manifesto commitment of 3 million starts by 2020 shows a 24 per cent and widening gap. An average of nearly 90,000 starts per month are required for the remaining 14 months to achieve the target. In the 46 months since 2015 the average starts has been less than 40,000. See graph above.

Apprenticeships and skills minister Anne Milton said: “It is great news that these figures show we are continuing to see a rise in the number of people starting their apprenticeship journey – an increase of 10% compared to the same point last year. It is also brilliant to see that over four million people have started an apprenticeship since May 2010.”

Mark Daw, the chief executive of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers, said his organisation “still believes that introducing the levy was right but starts being over a third down on pre-levy levels show that the Chancellor was also right to call for a fundamental review of how the funding system is working”.

“As last week’s report by the Federation of Small Businesses illustrated, it’s increasing funding available for SMEs as major providers of level 2 and 3 apprenticeships which is the biggest priority and the government must use the Spending Review to restore the funding for them that was there prior to the levy,” he added.