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12 October 2017

Troubling drop in apprenticeships

New figures from the Department for Education show the number of people starting apprenticeships in England has fallen by 61 per cent, following the introduction of the apprenticeship levy and changes to apprenticeship funding for small businesses.

The number of young people, under the age of 19, starting apprenticeships has fallen by 41 per cent compared to this time last year.

Mike Cherry, National Chairman at the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said:

“Changes to apprenticeship funding may be partly responsible for driving down the number of apprenticeships, which is bad news for everyone. It’s early days in the Government’s apprenticeship programme, but these figures do coincide with an increase in the compulsory employer contribution and a greater focus on levy-paying businesses over smaller employers.

“This is a significant programme of reform which will take time to bed in but there must be a real concerted effort to enable employers to take on apprentices. As the Government has highlighted, apprenticeships are crucial if we are to tackle the skills shortage and increase the social mobility of our young people.

“Small businesses have a key role in providing apprenticeships in across the whole of England and particularly for younger workers, with 70 per cent of those firms that have an apprentice taking on 16-19 year olds. Government should reconsider the current funding arrangements and incentives for taking on younger apprentices, recognising that this group needs more support as they move into the workplace for the first time.”