Apprenticeship starts published by the DfE this morning show a slight increase, when comparing provisional figures for the first quarter of the academic year (August to October).

Latest figures out today show provisional starts at 155,600, compared to 153,100 over the same period a year ago.

This comes as the latest vacancy numbers taken from the ‘find and apprenticeship’ government website showed a 20 percent fall (12,810 fewer) in the first quarter of 2016/17 compared to the same period last year. And Traineeship vacancies fell 29 percent (610 fewer).

As the figures below also reveal, applications to become an apprentice rose 35 percent (up 150,770) in the same period.

So as the volume of vacancies from employers shrunk the number of people applying continued to rise.

Mark Dawe at AELP has expressed “concern” at the latest vacancy numbers, adding: “We need to make sure that the incentives for employers are sufficient to make sure that more apprenticeship opportunities become available.”

FE Week has spoken to various sector insiders, and one unsubstantiated theory is that some ‘levied-employers’ are waiting for the apprenticeship reforms to take place from 1 May, when they will be able to start using their credit. And the ‘non-levied employers’ might also be waiting until May given their fee contribution for apprenticeship standards will fall from a third to 10 percent. 

Apprenticeships and skills Minister Robert Halfon said: “Apprenticeships offer people a ladder of opportunity to get on in highly skilled jobs. With 780,000 apprenticeships started since May 2015, we are well on our way to turning this country into an apprenticeships nation.

 “I want to build on this success and keep increasing the prestige and quality of apprenticeships to ensure they are on par with traditional academic options.”

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  1. This fall in the number of apprenticeships advertised/ available was inevitable as employers are holding fire on starting any apprenticeships until after the apprenticeship levy has come to play. Numbers of available apprenticeships for the next year are set to be substantially lower than in previous years whilst employers get to grips with the changes due to be implemented in the next few months!