Seven things we learned from the ESFA’s latest apprenticeships data release

New-look apprenticeship and traineeship statistics were published by the Education and Skills Funding Agency today and captured final year-end data for 2019/20.

Here are seven things we learned.


1. 8,000 claims worth over £15m for new employer incentives by mid-November

Under an incentive scheme, running from August to March 2021, any firm that hires a new apprentice aged 16 to 24 will be paid £2,000 – on top of the existing £1,000 incentive for 16 to 18s – while those that hire new apprentices aged 25 and over will receive £1,500.

The cash is paid in two instalments if the apprentice stays for a least a year, and is limited to 10 apprentices per employer per region in England.

As of 12th November 2020, the number incentive claims totalled 8,000.

Of these, 33 per cent were for level 2 apprentices, 44 per cent for level 3, and 23 per cent for level 4 or higher.

The vast majority, 6,450 (81 per cent), of claims were for 16 to 24-year-olds.


2. Total apprenticeship starts down 18%

The number of apprenticeship starts for the whole of 2018/19 totalled 393,400, but this dropped to 322,500 in 2019/20.

Of those starts in 2019/20, 47 per cent were from apprentices aged over 25, while 25 per cent were for higher apprenticeships.

Starts for both level 2 apprenticeships and under 19 apprentices dropped.


3. Traineeship starts also down 18%

Starts on traineeships took another dip in 2019/20, falling to just 12,100 from 14,900 the year before.

Take up of the pre-employment programme, introduced in 2013, hit a high of 24,100 in 2015/16 but have been dropping since.

The government hopes to triple traineeship starts to over 40,000 for this academic year, with a higher funding rate for 19 to 24-year-olds, employer incentives and a tender to find extra providers among new measures.


4. Progress to public sector apprenticeship target is at 1.7%

Public sector bodies in England with 250 or more staff have a target to employ an average of at least 2.3 per cent of their staff as new apprentice starts over the period 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2021.

Figures for the first three years of the target show an average of 1.7 per cent of employees started an apprenticeship.

The armed forces were by far the largest employer of apprentices with an average of 7.9 per cent of employees starting an apprenticeship since April 2017, while the police has the lowest rate of apprenticeship recruitment averaging at 0.7 per cent over that same period.


5. 7,670 transfers of apprenticeship funds

Since April 2018, levy-paying employers have been able to transfer up to 10 per cent of the annual value of their funds to other organisations via the apprenticeship service. This increased to 25 per cent from April 2019.

As of 16 November 2020, there have been just 7,670 transfers approved.

Of those, 34.1 per cent (2,610) were transfers to levy-paying organisations and 65.9 per cent (5,060) were transfers to small and medium-sized businesses that do not pay the levy.



6. 1,190 redundancies since August

The ESFA added a new function to its digital apprenticeship service at the end of July to record any apprentice who has been made redundant.

From August until 12 November 2020, the number of apprenticeship redundancies reported so far was 1,190.

Of these, 22 per cent were under 19s, 35 per cent were aged 19 to 24, while 43 per cent were for 25s and over.

However, the ESFA says this data currently does not capture all apprenticeships as not all non-levy employers will be using the apprenticeship service until 1 April 2021.



7. Apprenticeship vacancies significantly fall

Latest apprenticeship vacancy data, from the government’s Find An Apprenticeship website, has also been released and shows a considerable drop.

Vacancies in August, September and October 2020 were 6,920, 8,150, and 8,170 respectively.

For the same months in 2019, vacancies sat at 10,490 for August, 9,760 for September, and 9,900 for October.

And for the same months in 2018, vacancies sat at 14,060 for August, 12,050 for September, and 14,260 for October.

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