Apprenticeship starts were down 31 percent in January compared with the same period in 2017, the latest provisional government statistics released this morning have revealed.
There were 25,400 starts that month – down 11,300 from January 2017’s provisional total of 36,700, according to the Education and Skills Funding Agency.
The latest figures represent a bigger proportionate drop than in December, which saw a 23 percent year-on-year fall in starts.
Earlier this week the chancellor Philip Hammond admitted to parliament that he had expected starts to fall with the introduction of the apprenticeship levy – but not to the extent that they are.
“I recognise that starts are down—we always expected that,” he said.
“There are fewer starts than we expected, but we are seeing a much higher level of apprenticeship,” he continued.
“The Department for Education and the Treasury are looking carefully at how this is working,” he said.
“Our reforms to the apprenticeship system are about increasing the number of quality apprenticeships, so people of all ages and backgrounds can take advantage of the opportunities apprenticeships bring,” a DfE spokesperson said.
“We have recently seen an increase in the number of people starting on higher level apprenticeships, such as engineering and law, and on our new quality apprenticeship standards. These new apprenticeships are designed by employers themselves to meet their needs, and in a range of industries such as fashion, banking and defence.
“The apprenticeship levy is an important part of these changes to raise the quality of apprenticeships in this country, creating long-term, sustainable investment in training and education. Nearly 60 per cent of people starting on the new apprenticeship standards are levy supported, showing that levy payers are working well with the new system.”