Apprenticeship starts for young people grow the most in full-year 2021/22 figures

But overall starts are still 11% down on pre-pandemic levels

But overall starts are still 11% down on pre-pandemic levels

13 Oct 2022, 10:22

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Apprenticeship starts for the whole of the 2021/22 grew 9 per cent on the previous academic year – and it was young people who saw the biggest increase, new figures show.

Provisional data published this morning by the Department for Education has revealed there were a total of 347,900 starts last year compared to 319,400 in 2020/21.

Starts for 2021/22 were, however, still 11 per cent down on the 389,200 recorded in 2018/19 – the year before Covid-19 struck.

Unusually, it was those aged 16 to 18 who saw the biggest proportional rise in apprenticeship starts – growing by 20 per cent from 64,400 in 2020/21 to 77,200 in 2021/22.

Those aged 19 to 24 saw a 13 per cent increase – from 94,000 to 105,900 – while starts for those aged 25 and older only grew by 2 per cent – from 160,900 to 164,800.

Association of Employment and Learning Providers chief executive Jane Hickie said: “It’s really positive to see apprenticeship starts continue to go in the right direction, and particularly encouraging to see a good boost in 16 to 18-year-old starts.”

She added that it is worth noting the enhanced £3,000 employer apprenticeship incentives were still in place through parts of this year, which boosted starts significantly – especially for young and entry level learners.

All levels of apprenticeships saw similar growth between 2020/21 and 2021/22: level 2 apprenticeships went up by 9 per cent, level 3 grew by 10 per cent, and level 4 and above apprenticeships increased by 8 per cent.

Today’s data shows there was a spike in apprenticeship starts in September 2021 of 81,700, which is 60 per cent higher than the 51,200 achieved in 2020/21, and even 12 per cent up on the 72,800 recorded pre-pandemic in 2018/19.

December was the worst performing month for starts in 2021/22 as just 13,900 were achieved, the lowest number at that point in each of the past four academic years.

The figures also show the number of starts commitments reported to date from levy-paying employers in the 2021/22 was 206,080, which is 30 per cent more than the 158,650 reported for the previous academic year.

Employer apprenticeship vacancies are, however, falling. There were 11,160 vacancies on Find An Apprenticeship in September 2022, which is 32 per cent down on the 16,490 vacancies posted in September 2021.

Hickie said: “We still have a way to go to reaching- and ideally exceeding- pre-pandemic apprenticeship levels.

“AELP would therefore encourage the government to reinstate enhanced employer incentives; ensure funding is protected through ringfencing the apprenticeship levy; ensure funding for each programme matches the true cost of delivery and break down bureaucracy so more employers can engage with apprenticeships.”

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