Apprenticeship starts up after two years of decline

Official figures released this morning show the number of apprenticeship starts for 2014/15 was up by 59,500 from the previous year – reversing the decline of the previous two years.

The final (rather than provisional) figures in today’s Statistical First Release show there were 499,900 apprenticeship starts in 2014/15, an increase of 13.5 per cent from 2013/14’s total of 440,400.

The figures largely confirm provisional numbers released last month, and reported by FE Week, showing the first full-year rise since 2011/12, although the numbers were not back up to that year’s high of 520,600.

While figures for all ages last year were up, the biggest growth was in 25+ apprenticeship starts, which rose to 213,900 for the year – an increase of 52,300 or 35 per cent on the previous year’s figure of 161,600.

The number of 25+ apprenticeship starts was almost back up to the 2012/13 high of 230,000, following the scrapping of the unpopular 24+ advanced learning loans for apprentices, which were widely believed to be responsible for a drop in adult apprenticeship starts.

The number of 16 to 18-year-olds starting an apprenticeship in 2014/15 was up by 6,100, or 5.1 per cent, to 125,900. It continued the upward trend from 2013/14, when the 16 to 18 age group was the only one to show an increase, from 114,500 in 2012/13 to 119,800 in 2013/14.

The smallest growth in apprenticeship starts in 2014/15 was among 19 to 24-year-olds. At 160,200, the figures was up just 1,100 or 0.7 per cent from the 2013/14 figure of 159,100.

Today’s figures also show 400 starts for 2014/15 under the new Trailblazer apprenticeship standards.

The release also confirmed that the number of traineeship starts was just short of former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s target of 20,000 starts, with 19,400 starts for 2014/15. This was up 86.5 per cent, or 9,000, from last year’s total of 10,400.

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