Police and schools top list of those missing apprenticeship targets

The police and schools are the public-sector bodies with most to do to meet the government’s apprenticeship recruitment target, according to new data from the Department for Education.

Apprentices made up an average of only 0.5 per cent of the workforce in police forces across England in 2018-19, followed by an average of 0.9 per cent at schools.

This is significantly below the 2.3 per cent target required for most public bodies with more than 250 employees.

In a document published alongside the figures the Department for Education added: “The police have the lowest rate of apprenticeship recruitment averaging at 0.4 per cent since April 2017.”

The bodies have not officially missed the target as they must meet the 2.3 per cent threshold over a period of four years, from 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2021.

However, the requirement only came into force for schools last year.

The average percentage of apprenticeship starts among public-sector bodies since the target was launched in 2017 stands at 1.6 per cent.

The public-sector bodies performing best are the armed forces, which had 7.5 per cent of the workforce starting as apprentices in 2018-19, followed by the fire service with 2.1 per cent, then the NHS at 1.7 per cent.

Two police forces topped the list of bodies with the most employees without any apprentices in 2018/19.

Kent Police had 5,988 employees but no apprentices.

Close behind in second was Essex Police, which had 5,314 staff members and zero apprentices last year. 

Chief superintendent Mat Newton, head of learning and development at Kent Police and Essex Police, said his forces were “currently developing new programmes that will offer apprenticeships in digital design, information technology, and business and administration”.

He added that they were also “just about to launch” a programme in vehicle maintenance, a number of staff members are studying for an apprenticeship master’s degree in applied criminology and leadership, and future apprenticeship programmes for new student police officers will be launched in 2021.

The police forces both moved up one place from 2017/18, when they were placed second and third on the list.

Lead Employer Trust, which is commissioned by Health Education England in the North East and North Cumbria to employ all junior doctors across the region during their training, had the third-most employees and zero apprentices in 2018/19. It had 2,129 employees at the time, according to the statistics published by the DfE.

Three school trusts also made the top ten with no apprentices last year: Saffron Academy Trust, Brampton Manor Trust and Compass Education Trust were eighth, ninth and tenth respectively.

FE colleges are excluded from the target as they are technically classed as private organisations.

In 2017/18, Imperial College Health Care NHS Trust came top of the list with 10,662 staff members but zero apprenticeships. A spokesperson said the actual number of staff during that period was 11,789 and confirmed that there were no apprentices.

The trust supplied figures for 2018/19, which were also higher than those listed in official DfE data, which showed that it had 12,179 employees and 87 undertaking apprenticeships for management roles.

A spokesperson for Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust said: “In 2017/18 new apprentice standards were introduced and the procurement of training providers and completion of setting up the programme took several months.

“Although we did not directly employ apprentices during 2017/18, we continued to work with an apprentice training agency delivering the previous apprenticeship programme.”

There were 56,980 new apprenticeship starts across the whole of the public sector during the financial year, rising from 45,410 the year before.