New government figures show that apprenticeship starts in England were up 7 per cent in the first quarter of 2023/24 compared to the same period last year.
Provisional in-year data, published today, reports 130,830 starts in August, September and October of 2023, up from 122,290 for the same period the year before.
Starts on advanced and higher-level apprenticeships both increased by 10 per cent respectively. Meanwhile starts on intermediate-level apprenticeships declined by 2.5 per cent.
There were 28,400 level 2 starts last quarter, down from 29,150 the year before and 21 per cent fewer than in quarter one of 2021/22.
Apprenticeship achievements saw a significant increase with 37,400 recorded this year in quarter one, up 22 per cent from the same period last year.
There was also good news for SEND apprenticeships. There were 20,050 starts in quarter one, nearly double the number for the same period in 2020.
This comes as several training providers are involved in a pilot scheme allowing learners without a pre-existing education health and care plan (EHCP) or statement of learning difficulties assessment (LDA) to work towards a lower level of functional skills.
Under current rules, apprentices must achieve level 1 English and maths functional skills qualifications if they’re on a level 2 apprenticeship and did not pass the qualifications at GCSE. And if a similar learner is on a level 3 or higher apprenticeship, they must achieve functional skills at level 2.
Starts for under 19s increased by 11 per cent. Quarter one stats for this year recorded 42,740 starts for that age group, up from 38,480 the year before.
Figures reveal that the level 3 installation and maintenance electrician apprenticeship was the most popular course last quarter clocking up 4,700 starts. This was followed by the level 3 early years educator (4430 starts), level 3 business administrator (4420 starts) and the level 7 tax professional apprenticeship (3960 starts).
Among other popular levels 6 and 7 apprenticeships were the senior leader standard (2410 starts), the chartered manager degree apprenticeship (1360 starts) and the teacher apprenticeship (1160 starts).
Spending on degree-level apprenticeships hit the half-a-billion-pound mark in a single year for the first time in 2021/22, with officials understood to be discussing possible future controls on the courses, which are the most expensive to deliver, amid affordability concerns.
Apprenticeships in carpentry and joinery, hairdressing, early years and adult care were the most popular level 2 apprenticeships, quarter one stats stated.
Young care leavers starting an apprenticeship from August 2023 benefited from a higher level bursary from the government. The bursary was tripled to £3,000 for care leavers aged 16 to 24 intended to help them with the extra barriers they face in the transition to the world of work.
Figures released today show that 130 bursary payments have been made between August 2023 and December 2023.
There were also 400 recorded flexi-job apprenticeship starts recorded, signalling growth in the programme as there were 640 starts for the whole of 2022/23.
Flexi-job apprenticeships were announced by then-Chancellor Rishi Sunak in 2021 as a way for employers in certain industries to offer shorter work placements for apprentices. Apprentices are employed by an agency and can work in multiple employers over the duration of their apprenticeship.