Apprenticeship success rates have risen for the fourth consecutive year across all age groups, according to new government data.

The statistical first release (SFR), published by the Data Service last week, shows a 2.6 percentage point increase in apprenticeships at all age groups and skill levels.

The completion rate of all 16 to 18 apprenticeships rose to 74 per cent in 2010/11, up from 72.4 per cent for the previous twelve months.

John Hayes MP, minister of state for further education, skills and lifelong learning, said: “Clarity of policy, strength of commitment and certainty of purpose has delivered record numbers of apprenticeship starts, outstanding success rates and growth across all sectors.”

The SFR also revealed an 83.2 per cent completion rate for 16-18 higher apprenticeships, rising to 84.8 per cent for learners aged 19 and above.

“Thousands of higher apprenticeships will open up new pathways to excellence for the brightest and best learners,” Mr Hayes said.

“A zero tolerance approach to unnecessary red tape, and new financial incentives for small firms will enable more employers to offer gold standard training to match and beat our international competitors.”

The Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) says the statistics prove the apprenticeship programme is in “rude health”.

Graham Hoyle, chief executive of AELP, said: “The latest official statistics show that right across the board, apprenticeships are playing a key role in lifting skill levels in the UK workforce and giving thousands of young people a successful start to their careers in manufacturing and service sectors. ”

Total completions for 16 to 24 year-olds hit more than 160,000 in 2010/11, up by 16.8 per cent on the previous year.

Mr Hoyle added: “Amidst all the doom and gloom surrounding the economic outlook, employers and providers deserve major credit for significantly increasing the number of apprenticeship places and for offering quality training when they have to contend with higher costs on their businesses.”

The SFR data also showed an increase in the success rates for advanced level apprenticeships, with an average completion rate of 78.6 per cent across all age groups in 2010/11.

Intermediate level apprenticeships had a similar increase, with a success rate of 72.2 per cent for apprentices aged 16 to 18 and 78 per cent for those aged 19 and above.

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