Apprenticeships make up just half a per cent of FE loan applications

Figures released this morning show just 239 loans for apprenticeships have been applied for  since the scheme began — 162 in September.

The figures are dramatically below government forecasts, in which around 25,000 applications for apprenticeship loans were expected this academic year (by July 31, 2014).

Provisional figures for the last academic year (ending July 31, 2013), before 24+ advanced learning loans were introduced, indicate there were 112,300 level three and above apprenticeship starts for those aged 25 and over.

A department for Business, Innovation and Skills spokesperson told FE Week this morning: “We are closely monitoring the take up of these loans and will continue to do so. We recognise that under the loans system where we have had over 49,000 applications in total, the current figures for apprenticeships are low. However, apprentices do not typically begin their role with the academic year so applications could increase throughout the year.”

Stewart Segal, chief executive of the Association and Employment and Learning providers said: “There are changes we could make to the system to improve the position but we need a more radical solution sooner rather than later to ensure the apprenticeship programme is not damaged further.”

David Hughes, chief executive of NIACE said: “We are extremely concerned that this radical funding change has resulted in a massive shift in delivery. This shows how price-sensitive learners and employers are and the impact that has on choices people make about learning.

“This week the Government announced ambitious plans for the future of Apprenticeships, but these figures show that action is needed now to rescue the programme for adults over the age of 24.”

Read more in the next edition of FE Week.

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  1. BIS response sounds a little optimistic and over hopeful to me. Principle of joint investment in skills is right, especially at higher levels – however, when the market has been flooded with a ‘free’ price point, switching to a loan system overnight is bound to erode participation levels in Apprenticeships.

  2. Andrew Hickley

    You are 24+. You are in a new job or a substantially altered current job role which is appropriate for Advanced or Higher Level Apprenticeships. You must have brought substantial qualities and or experience to gain the position.What is your and your employers main objective. To get you funtioning in your new role/job as quickly as possible. If this does require training then what is the best value way to achieve it? The answer will very seldom be an Apprenticeship.

  3. Mike Farmer

    I think you need to look more closely at the advanced and higher apprenticeship starts in the latter part of the 2012/13 academic year. The provisional figures for the whole of 2012/13 for 25+ were, as the article says, 106,200, compared with 95,700 in 2011/12, an increase of 10,500, or 11%. However the number of starts in the last quarter (May-July 2013) was 40,500, compared with 29,400 in the last quarter of 2011/12, an increase of 38%. The BIS Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) published in June 2012 forecast that there would be 48,000 24+ starts in the financial year (April-March 2013/14). So adding in the April 2013 starts and adding in the 24 year old starts (both of which are omitted from the figures above) leads me to estimate that there have already been more than 48,000 starts since April 2013, with a huge surge in starts just before the start of the new loans regime in August. So I think the big story is not (yet) a catastrophic drop in the number of apprenticeship starts, but rather a massive acceleration in apprenticeship starts just before the loans regime kicked in (I wonder why?). There is another story hidden in the figures, which is a significant fall in the numbers in Level 4 numbers(84% below BIS forecasts) which no-one but me seems to have spotted. Level 3 numbers for classroom-based courses are holding up remarkably well (107% of BIS forecasts). As ever, the devil is in the detail!