Academic year 2023/24

Apprenticeships

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See all updates (7) for Academic year 2023/24
  1. Updated with the latest monthly starts for the first eight months of 2023/24

  2. Updated with the latest monthly starts for the first seven months of 2023/24 and added Local Skills Improvement Plan (LSIP) areas to summary geography

  3. Updated with the latest monthly starts for the first six months of 2023/24

  4. Updated to add links to the interactive data visualisation tool

  5. Updated with data covering the first two quarters of 2023/24. Achievement rate data also added covering 2022/23

  6. Updated with monthly starts for the first four months of 2023/24

  7. Updated to add links to the interactive data visualisation tool

Release type

Introduction

June 2024 release

This transparency update adds additional data on monthly apprenticeship starts in the ‘Latest Apprenticeships in year data’ section covering the period August 2023 to March 2024, based on data returned by providers in May 2024. All other apprenticeship starts are as published in the March 2024 release and cover the period August 2023 to January 2024, based on data returned by providers in February 2024.

Changes for 2023/24

Prior to January 2024 this release was known as ‘Apprenticeships and Traineeships’. Previous releases are available from the right hand menu via the ‘Releases in this series’ link. Since August 2023 Traineeships have been integrated into mainstream provision. Whilst volumes of starts are no longer reported separately, final data on outcomes is expected to be released in November 2024 as an update to the Apprenticeships and Traineeships November 2022/23 publication.

Please note that the ‘Explore data and files used in this release’ section contains the underlying files and featured tables that underpin this release. You can also view featured tables or create your own table using the ‘create your own tables' functionality.


Headline facts and figures - 2023/24

Explore data and files used in this release

  • View or create your own tables

    View tables that we have built for you, or create your own tables from open data using our table tool

  • Data catalogue

    Browse and download open data files from this release in our data catalogue

  • Data guidance

    Learn more about the data files used in this release using our online guidance

  • Download all data (ZIP)

    Download all data available in this release as a compressed ZIP file

Additional supporting files

All supporting files from this release are listed for individual download below:

About these statistics

This statistical release presents provisional information on all age (16+) apprenticeships starts, achievements and participation in England for the 2023/24 academic year.

Also published are official statistics covering:

  • Apprenticeship service commitments
  • Employers reporting the withdrawal of apprentices due to redundancy
  • Adverts and vacancies as reported on the Find an apprenticeship website

A separate release covers overall further education and skills data, please see ‘Further education and skills’. Please note that the FE and skills release includes the adult apprenticeships published here in its headline figures.

Individualised Learner Record (ILR) administrative data

The apprenticeship data in this release published in March 2024 are based on the sixth ILR data return from FE and apprenticeship providers for the 2023/24 academic year, which was taken in February 2024. The June monthly transparency update is based on the ninth ILR data return (taken in May 2024). The ILR is an administrative data collection system designed primarily for operational use in order to fund training providers for learners in FE and on apprenticeship programmes.

Quarterly release schedule:

  • Quarter 1: Data from August to October published in January
  • Quarter 2: Data from August to January published in March
  • Quarter 3: Data from August to April published in July
  • Full Year: Data from August to July published in November

Note: The academic year in the FE publications covers August to July.

National achievement rate tables data

Figures in the ‘national achievement rate tables’ section are as published in March 2024. These official statistics cover achievement rates for apprenticeships in the 2022/23 academic year and would have been previously released as part of the standalone National achievement rate tables publication.

Provider reporting during the COVID-19 pandemic

Historic data in this publication covers periods affected by varying COVID-19 restrictions, which will have impacted on apprenticeship learning. Therefore, extra care should be taken in comparing and interpreting data presented in this release.

The furlough scheme may also have impacted on how aspects of ILR data were recorded, such as how the ‘learning status’ of a learner was captured, e.g. whether a learner was recorded as a continuing learner or whether they were recorded as being on a break in learning while still being with an employer.

The content of the publication contains charts and tables which highlight key figures and trends that give an overview of the national picture of the apprenticeship landscape.

At relevant points within each commentary section there are links to “featured tables” that offer the next level of detail behind each of the tables embedded within the release. The table builder tool “featured tables” sit within, also enables the user to amend content, reorder and take away to meet their needs.

The user can also choose just to explore the data within this release by using the 'Explore data and files used in this release' section. Here the user can either select “view or create your own tables” to view all of the ready-made “featured tables” in a single list, or build their own table by selecting a datafile that underpins the release, or use one of the featured tables as a starting point.

There is also a dashboard that provides interactive presentation of our published data, with a number of different views on to data and ‘drilldown’ capability to allow users to investigate different types of FE provision. It is particularly helpful in viewing data across different geographical areas and providers. See the Interactive data visualisation tool accordion for the dashboard link.

This release also contains an ‘Additional supporting files’ accordion containing mainly csv files that can be downloaded, which provide some additional breakdowns including unrounded data. They are provided for transparency to enable analysts to re-use the data in this release. A metadata document is available in the same location which explains the content of these supporting files. Please note some of the files are too large for proprietary software such as Excel and may need specialist analysis software such as R, SQL, etc.

Feedback

We continually look to improve our data and statistics and your feedback is important to help us further improve and develop. To provide feedback on this release, please email us at FE.OFFICIALSTATISTICS@education.gov.uk

Full year Apprenticeships data

The figures in this section relate to full-year final data up to and including the 2022/23 academic year and were originally published in November 2023

 

The changing apprenticeship landscape

Reform of the apprenticeships programme, along with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic have influenced the trends presented in this section. Three main factors are set out in the graphic below.

image showing three main factors affecting trends

History of apprenticeship participation

Adult participation 

Participation in apprenticeships by those aged 19+ in 2022/23 was 621,000 – an increase of 1.2% on the 2021/22 figure of 613,900. 

Putting those figures into context, the total number of adults participating in all further education and skills was just over 1.8 million in 2022/23.

 

All age apprenticeship participation by level

There was a steady decline in total participation between 2016/17 and 2020/21 with learner numbers falling by over a fifth from 908,700 to 713,000. 

Apprenticeship starts declined at a faster rate than seen for participation during the same period, falling by a third. The transition to apprenticeship standards, the decline in shorter intermediate apprenticeships and the growth in longer apprenticeships at level 4 and above help explain this difference.

Since 2020/21, participation has risen in each year with 752,200 learners recorded in 2022/23 – 5.5% higher than in 2020/21. The continued increase in participation at higher levels has more than offset the decline at intermediate level during this time. Participation in intermediate apprenticeships fell by 23,600 (12.8%) between 2020/21 and 2022/23, but higher apprenticeship participation increased by 53,400 (25.7%).


Subject, Level and Age

Final figures reported to the end of 2022/23 show:

  • The 337,140 starts reported for the 2022/23 academic year are 3.5% lower than the 349,190 reported for 2021/22, and 4.9% higher than the 321,440 reported for 2020/21. Starts are 14.3% lower than seen in 2018/19.
  • Steady growth in higher level apprenticeships with starts at their highest volume and nearly six times higher than in 2014/15. A third of all starts (33.5%) were at Level 4 and above compared to 4.0% in 2014/15.
  • Starts in degree-level apprenticeships (level 6 and 7) have grown to 46,800 – representing 13.9% of all starts in 2022/23.
  • Starts at level 6 and 7 grew by 8.2% from 43,240 the previous year and were over four-times greater than in 2017/18, where they represented only 2.9% of all starts.
  • The share of starts for Under 19s was 23.1% compared to 29.3% for 19-24 year olds and 47.6% for those aged 25+.
  • The fall in apprenticeship starts compared to 2021/22 can be attributed to adults. Starts for under 19s increased marginally by 0.3%, while those by 19-24 year-olds saw a 7.1% decline, and starts for those aged 25 and over fell by 2.9%. This is the second consecutive year that has seen the share of starts by under 19s increase – improving from a low of 20.3% in 2020/21. Prior to 2021/22, starts by under 19s had seen the steepest decline – reducing by about half since 2015/16 compared to 38.5% for 19-24s and 27.8% for 25+. 2017/18 saw the largest single-year decline in starts for an age-group. 
  • Science, technology engineering and maths (STEM) subjects accounted for 28.5% of starts – a marginal increase from 28.2% in the previous year. 2020/21 saw a disproportionately large drop in starts for STEM subjects – falling by 15.4% compared to 2019/20 while non-STEM grew by 5.7%.
  • Health, public services and care remains the most popular tier 1 subject area (29.3% of starts), ahead of Business, Administration and Law (26.9%). Both these subject areas have seen a decline in overall share of starts since 2020/21 but the reduction in Business has been larger.
  • Information and Communications Technology (ICT) is the only tier 1 subject area to see an increase in starts compared to 2021/22. ICT has shown a 10% growth in starts in the last year and has increased steadily to make up 7.4% of all starts in 2022/23. 

Apprenticeship achievements 

The 162,320 achievements reported for the 2022/23 academic year represent the highest number since 2018/19. Achievements are 18.3% up on the 137,220 reported for 2021/22 although remain 12.3% lower than the 185,150 reported in 2018/19.

Levy

Total starts supported by ASA levy funds were 229,720; this accounts for over two-thirds (68.1%) of all starts. Please see the Further education and skills statistics: methodology for more information about ASA levy funds.

Length of employment

The large majority of apprenticeship starts are either by new employees with up to 3 months service or established employees who have been employed for more than 12 months. In 2014/15 there was a relatively even split between these groups (around 41% of starts in each). The trend has shifted to proportionally more newer employees starting apprenticeships. In 2022/23, apprentices employed for up to 3 months accounted for 46.3% of starts where length of employment was known, compared to 37.3% who had been employed for more than a year. 

 

Expected Duration

The expected duration of an apprenticeship is the difference between the associated start date and planned end date as recorded in the ILR.

Final figures show that the average expected duration of an apprenticeship:

  • increased from 406 days in 2011/12 to 628 days in 2022/23
  • increased by 0.8% in the last year - from 623 days in 2021/22
  • is significantly higher for level 6 and 7 apprenticeships. The increased uptake at these levels will have contributed to the overall increase in planned duration

 

Ethnicity

Starts by learners from ethnic minorities (excluding white minorities) as a proportion of all starts have increased year-on-year to 15.4% in 2022/23. 


Since 2017/18, the growth of Asian/Asian British learners has outpaced other ethnic minorities (excluding white minorities) with a 33.0% increase in starts compared to 19.9% for mixed/multiple ethnic groups and 9% for Black learners.


Sex

Females accounted for 51.2% of starts in 2022/23. This share has fluctuated in recent years with a high of 53.4% in 2020/21, preceded by a low of 48.8% in 2019/20.


Learning Difficulties 

Apprentices declaring a learning difficulty or disability accounted for 15.3% of starts in 2022/23. This proportion has risen steadily from 10.1% in 2015/16. 

 

Region

Starts in all regions have fallen compared to 2021/22, ranging from a 7.6% decrease in the North East, to a 3.1% drop in the West Midlands. Accounting for population size in each region, London has the lowest rates of starts, participation and achievements. The North East, Yorkshire and the Humber and the South West have the highest rates for these measures. 

Apprenticeship starts, participation and achievement rates per population are also available at local authority district (LAD) level available via the ‘Explore data’ button in the map above. In these statistics, rates for Richmondshire are significantly higher than in other areas. This is due to the location of Catterick Garrison within its boundary and the high prevalence of apprenticeships in the British Army. In 2023/24 Richmondshire has become part of the unitary authority North Yorkshire and the rates for this area as a whole are not significantly higher. 

Provider Type

Private sector, public funded providers were responsible for around two-thirds of starts (65.5%) in 2022/23. This is slightly higher than the share of starts in these providers in 2018/19 (63.3%). Over the same period the share of starts in general FE colleges fell from 23.7% in 2018/19 to 17.4% in 2022/23.

Occupational routes

As well as being organised by subject area, apprenticeship standards each fit into one of 15 occupational routes. The 15 routes group together skilled occupations with related knowledge and skill requirements and form the structure through which all technical education is now delivered. The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE) occupational maps provide more information on occupational routes and where technical education can lead.

Just under a fifth (18.6%) of apprenticeship starts were on the Business and Administration route in 2022/23. The next five most popular routes all had a similar share of starts, ranging from 9% in Engineering and Manufacturing to 10% in Construction and Built Environment. 

The Digital route has seen the greatest percentage growth in the last two years, increasing by over a half (52%), from 14,760 starts in 2020/21 to 22,490 in 2022/23. In contrast, apprenticeships on the Care Services route fell by a fifth over the same period.

More information on the development of technical routes is available in the Post-16 skills plan and independent report on technical education.

Latest Apprenticeship in year data

The commentary and first chart/table below provide the latest starts data covering the period August 2023 to March 2024 as reported by providers in May 2024.  Latest data will always be incomplete to some degree, especially for the latest month reported, as providers continue to update their records.  For these monthly updates we only provide a small update on starts between our fuller updates for which the latest (continuing in rest of this section below) covers August 2023 to January 2024 as reported by providers in February 2024.    

Latest updated starts (published 13th June 2024)  

  • The 255,980 starts reported to date for the first eight months of the 2023/24 academic year (August to March) are 0.5% higher than the 254,740 reported at the same point in the previous year.  
  • Since May 2010 there have been 5,852,500 apprenticeship starts.

Month by month breakdown  

Starts reported so far for August to October (140,620) were 6.7% higher compared to the same period last year. Since November monthly starts have been fluctuating from –13.2% to +1.6%.  The latest monthly update shows March starts are 10.5% lower compared to the same period in the previous year.

An additional supporting file is available to show more detail for monthly apprenticeship starts. Please see the file named ‘Underlying data - apprenticeship monthly starts' in the  Explore data and files section. 

The following figures and charts/tables were published in March 2024 and cover the first two quarters (August 2023 to January 2024) of the 2023/24 academic year:  

  • Apprenticeship starts were up by 2.5% to 200,550 compared to 195,600 reported for the same period in the previous year.
  • Learner participation decreased by 2.4% to 621,750 compared to 636,960 reported for the same period in the previous year.
  • Higher apprenticeship starts increased by 9.1% to 70,780 compared to 64,890 in the same period last year.
  • Starts at Level 6 and 7 increased by 5.8% to 32,500 in 2023/24. This represents 16.2% of starts reported to date for 2023/24. There were 30,710 Level 6 and 7 starts in the same period last year (15.7% of starts in the same period).

National achievement rates tables

The following statistics are classified as official statistics and have been produced in line with the Code of Practice for Statistics, rather than being classed as national statistics and accredited as such by the Office for Statistics Regulation. The statistics are included for transparency purposes. 

Data in this section refers to 2022/23 and was first published in March 2024. Data for 2023/24 is planned to be released in March 2025.

The National Achievement Rate Tables (NARTs) present detailed tables of provider level Qualification Achievement Rates (QARs) that we use for performance management and informed choice purposes. Additionally we provide some national summary tables to show overall performance in the sector with a three year time series to enable comparison of change in performance over time.

In March 2020, the Secretary of State announced that the summer 2020 exam series in England would be cancelled to help fight the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19). This announcement also stated that Government will not publish any school, college or provider-level educational performance data based on tests, assessments or exams for the 2019/20 academic year.

In February 2021, given the continued disruption, it was confirmed this would also be the case for the 2020/21 academic year. As a consequence of the disruption to the assessment process, the government announced a change to its school and college accountability approach, stating providers will not be held to account on the basis of exams and assessment data from summer 2020. This release will therefore only contain provider level data for 2021/22 and 2022/23.

Headline figures at a national level are available to provide a three-year time series, showing data from 2020/21 to 2022/23. That historical data has not been re-calculated and is shown as originally published in March 2023.

Data for years prior to 2019/20 can be found in the Statistics: national achievement rates tables collection.

The overall apprenticeship achievement rate has seen an increase of 1.2 percentage points between 2021/22 and 2022/23 whilst the achievement rate for apprenticeship standards has seen an increase of 2.9 percentage points.

Changes in achievement rates are dependent on a combination of retention rates and pass rates. Pass rates have decreased by 0.3 percentage points between 2021/22 and 2022/23 whilst retention rates have increased by 1.4 percentage points.

The apprenticeship achievement rate measure is additionally reliant on the persons continued employment and in some sectors there is higher churn so caution should be used interpreting simple averages because changes in provision mix across sectors will lead to change in overall averages. 

Things you need to know about this release

The purpose of including this achievement rate data for 2019/20 and 2020/21 is to maintain the continuity of information and to provide context alongside the achievement volumes found elsewhere in this publication. It is important to maintain transparency by presenting the national level data for this cohort of learners whilst recognising the extraordinary circumstances under which apprenticeships were completed in 2019/20 and 2020/21, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

A number of things will have impacted the data and as a result data should not be directly compared to data from previous years. For example there was an increase in the number of breaks in learning which meant learners being reported in a different year to the one in which they were expected to complete. Different sectors have been affected in different ways.

In 2018/19 only 6,000 learners were carried forward whereas for the following three years the number of learners being carried forward is estimated to be 24,000, 28,000, and 34,000. The number carried forward for 2022/23 is estimated to be 40,000. They have fallen out of scope for 2022/23 and will be included in a future publication.

Impact of the transition from Frameworks to Standards 

When looking at achievement rates it is important to consider the impact of programme change in the nature of the provision resulting from the transition of frameworks to standards. Standards are designed to be more demanding than traditional frameworks. The assessment process is also more rigorous with a specific end point assessment phase following completion of training designed to ensure the apprentice is ready to do the job they have been trained for. 

The proportion of learners on frameworks and standards has changed significantly since previous years. In 2019/20 the proportion of learners on standards stood at 46%. For 2022/23 the proportion has now reached 97%.

Apprenticeship achievement rates for individual standards and frameworks can be found here : Apprenticeship Achievement Rates by individual standard / framework.

Impact of sector subject area

The mix of achievement rates across each sector subject area can be found to vary which can affect the national average, where figures could be found to be misleading. 

For 2022/23 the sector subject areas with the highest achievement rates are Arts, Media and Publishing (64.9%),​ Education and Training (63.6%), Agriculture, horticulture, and animal care (62.7%), ​​Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies (60.0%).

STEM subjects have an overall achievement rate of 57.6%, whereas non-STEM subjects have an overall achievement rate of 53.5%.

Background information 

National achievement rate tables are based on underlying Qualification Achievement Rates (QAR) data. Information about the process surrounding QARs can be found here: 

Introduction to Qualification Achievement Rates (QARs)

How rates are calculated

Information about how QARs are calculated can be found here : 

Qualification achievement rates 2022 to 2023

 

Overall apprenticeship achievement rates by learner characteristics

The figures in this section cover the achievement rates for those learners who are from ethnic minorities (excluding white minorities). Please note the figures for “White” include white minorities.

In 2022/23, learners from ethnic minorities (excluding white minorities) had an overall apprenticeship achievement rate of 48.9%, an increase of 0.6 percentage points from 48.3% in 2021/22. 

As is the case when looking into other learner attributes the variation in achievement rates by ethnicity is mainly driven by the mix of sector subject areas being undertaken. For 2022/23 this is driven by a large cohort volume of 12,930 for the Health, Public Services and Care sector where 16.4% of all learners were from ethnic minorities (excluding white minorities) and 13,050 for the Business, Administration and Law sector where 14.9% of all learners were from ethnic minorities (excluding white minorities) with overall achievement rates of 47.6% and 48.1% respectively. By comparison, only 9.1% of learners in the Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies sector were from ethnic minorities (excluding white minorities).

The sector with the highest achievement rate for learners from ethnic minorities (excluding white minorities) was Leisure, Travel and Tourism with 63.3%. The lowest achievement rate was for the Construction, Planning and the Built Environment sector with 40.9%.

Caution should be used interpreting simple averages because differences in provision mix across sectors will lead to change in overall averages. Press the green ‘Explore data’ button above to look at the data by age, level, sector subject area.
 

Apprenticeship overall achievement rates by detailed level

The highest overall achievement rate is at level 6 with 65.7%.  This has increased by 8.4 percentage points compared to 2021/22 and up 12 percentage points compared to 2020/21.

The achievement rate for 2022/23 for levels 6 and 7 combined has increased by 3.5 percentage points to 61.4% compared to 2021/22 (57.9%), and up 5.6% percentage points compared to 2020/21 (55.8%).

Achievement rates by provider

Data for individual providers can be found here : Apprenticeship Achievement Rates by provider

 

Redactions

We have redacted one provider for 2022/23 and two providers from 2021/22 from our formal performance tables (NARTs) where we are unable to form a reliable QAR. This is done where the data we hold does not allow us to calculate a reliable estimate and therefore provides an unfair measure of performance. We publish headline information for these providers separately for transparency, but they do not constitute a formal QAR and should not be used to compare performance. The underpinning data is included in our national achievement rates to provide a complete view of performance. Details can be found in the ‘Apprenticeship Achievement Rates – Transparency Redactions.pdf’ supporting file in the ‘Additional supporting files’ accordion.

 

Further information can be found in the following featured tables : 
 

Apprenticeship Achievement Rates by age and level
Apprenticeship Achievement Rates by provider type and level
Apprenticeship Achievement Rates by individual standard / framework

 

 

Traineeships

Positive destination rates have been calculated for Traineeships and are provided here for transparency. Users should note the caveats for these new rates that are based on provider information on destinations and how this compares with existing measures we publish in this release for traineeships on completions and conversion to apprenticeships and in the Outcome Based Success Measures release. 

Traineeship positive destination rates are produced to provide a measure of performance that is aligned to other QAR measures for apprenticeships and education and training. In common with other QARs they count the total number of learners who were due to complete in the given year (the denominator). However for Traineeships we determine an achievement (the numerator) as being activity where a positive destination is recorded in the Individualised Learner Record rather than a successful pass of the programme or qualification entered. 

Out of the 11,200 traineeships in 2022/23 53.9% had a positive destination recorded.  In 2021/22 the rate was 56.0%.

Rates for individual providers can be found here : Traineeship Positive Destinations by provider
 

Points to note on how traineeships QARs are measured

The positive destinations method for traineeships is reliant on providers accurately being able to report destinations in the ILR. 53.9% were reported as going into employment or other forms of training including part time FE learning. A large number of traineeships, 46.1%, are currently reported with “not applicable” as their destination, and these are not counted as having a successful outcome. While many may not be applicable because they did not have a successful outcome, there will be cases where providers do not know the outcome and the learner did find employment or go into other learning. 

Technical specifications for how achievement rates are calculated can be found in the Qualification achievement rates 2022 to 2023 guidance.

Further information on Traineeship funding rules including how the performance management process works can be found in the ESFA funding for traineeships guidance.

Points to note on how traineeship QARs compare with other data published

In the Traineeship section of our Apprenticeships and Traineeships release we publish total starts and how many of these completed. This will vary from the QAR measure because this counts all starts observed in the year including those due to complete in the following year. This measure also allows for COVID flexibilities. 

In that release we also publish conversions to apprenticeships which for 2021/22 were 18.7%.  This is based on administrative data and takes all the known starts for a year and tracks any learner found in an apprenticeship in the following year. The QAR method only relies on what providers have captured directly or from a learner so this administrative measure is a more complete observation of who goes onto apprenticeships.  A final figure for the conversion rate is scheduled to be published towards the end of 2024.

The Outcome Based Success Measures statistics publication uses the LEO dataset that brings together DfE, HMRC and DWP records to show positive outcomes over the October to March period after the year a learner completes. The latest data for 2020/21 Traineeships show 70% had a sustained positive destination and a further 21% having a positive destination that was not sustained (which will include those doing shorter periods of further learning or employment).

Public sector apprenticeships

The following statistics are classified as official statistics and have been produced in line with the Code of Practice for Statistics, rather than being classed as national statistics and accredited as such by the Office for Statistics Regulation.

Public sector apprenticeships data return 2022-23 (published November 2023)

Between 1 April 2017 and 31 March 2022, public sector bodies in England with 250 or more staff were set a Government target to employ an average of at least 2.3% of their staff as new apprentice starts. It was a statutory requirement for public sector bodies to report on their progress.

Though no longer a statutory requirement, we asked public sector bodies to continue to collect and report data on their apprenticeships activity in 2022-23 to support transparency and external accountability, and to help maintain the momentum public sector bodies have built up.

Full details relating to the revised guidance can be found in Publishing public sector apprenticeships data: guidance for public sector bodies, April 2023

Figures supplied by public sector bodies (up to and including 2 November 2023) suggest that for the period covering 1 April 2022 to 31 March 2023:

  • New apprenticeship starts represented 1.7% of total employees. This is slightly lower than the 1.8% reported between the same dates in the previous year.
  • A combined total of 61,100 new apprenticeship starts were reported.
  • Apprentices continue to be increasingly popular in the public sector workforce. The percentage of employees who were apprentices rose from 3.3% to 3.6% between the start and end of the latest 2022-23 period.
  • Apprenticeship starts by new and existing employees represent around one-tenth the volume of all employment starts in the public sector (10.6% in 2022-23).

Sub-sectors

There was variation in the recruitment of apprentices in distinct parts of the public sector. During the period April 2022 to March 2023:

  • The armed forces had the highest proportion of apprenticeship starts, with 5.8% of their employees starting an apprenticeship. 
  • The take up of police constable and operational firefighter apprenticeship standards have contributed to the police and fire authorities being the next highest employers, both at 2.6%
  • The Civil Service, at 1.7%, was in line with the national average for the whole public sector. 
  • Academy trusts and local authority maintained schools have the lowest rate of apprenticeship recruitment, averaging at 1.0% and 0.6% respectively.
  • Between the start and the end of the reporting period, all areas of the public sector increased the proportion of staff who were employed as an apprentice. The largest increases were seen in the armed forces and the police (both increasing by 1.6 percentage points during the year, with the percentage of staff who were an apprentice rising to 17.1% in the armed forces and to 5.6% in the police). 

School returns

For the 2022-2023 period, we modified the data collection to allow local authorities who are responsible for maintaining schools to separate out staff in schools from the total local authority headcounts and apprentices as reported in previous years.

State funded schools employing more than 250 staff and not maintained by a Local Authority (e.g. academies and academy trusts) came into scope for the previous target from 31 March 2018.

From the public sector returns, there were 3,800 new apprentices reported in academy trusts in 2022-23. There were an additional 2,800 apprenticeship starts in schools administered by local authorities between April 2022 and March 2023.

Historical public sector apprenticeships target 2017-18 to 2021-22

The historical target data were updated and re-published in the Apprenticeships and traineeships 2022/23 release. This included any organisations that submitted data after the original November 2022 publication and not included previously. Users can find the historical target data for individual public sector organisations in the ‘Additional supporting files’ section of that release.
 

Detailed information about measurement and the organisations in scope are set out in the Further education and skills statistics: methodology.
 

Additional featured table

The following featured table is available for aggregated historical public sector target data and is available in our create your own tables tool:

Percentage of public sector employees starting apprenticeships by sector between 2017-18 and 2021-22

Additional analysis and transparency data

The following statistics are classified as official statistics and have been produced in line with the Code of Practice for Statistics, rather than being classed as national statistics and accredited as such by the Office for Statistics Regulation. The statistics are included for transparency purposes.

Find an apprenticeship service

Apprenticeship adverts and vacancies

The apprenticeship adverts and vacancies in this section are a snapshot of Find An Apprenticeship (FAA), a digital system supporting apprenticeship advertisement and recruitment. They represent only a subset of the total number of vacancies available across the marketplace, as many apprenticeships are not advertised through this website.

The number of vacancies advertised reflects the total number published on Find an apprenticeship, but may not reflect the actual number of positions available. This is particularly the case for large national employers that may advertise the same positions across multiple locations simultaneously.

There were 38,210 adverts comprising 63,050 vacancies on Find An Apprenticeship between August 2023 and February 2024. These are both decreases of a quarter on the same period the previous year when there were 51,130 adverts and 84,620 vacancies.

There were 6,530 adverts, covering 11,320 vacancies on Find An Apprenticeship in February 2024.

The ‘Underlying data – apprenticeship vacancies’ file in the ‘Additional supporting files’ accordion contains more information about the vacancies and adverts published on Find an apprenticeship. This file is updated alongside our quarterly releases. The current file was published in March 2024 and covers vacancies from August 2022 to February 2024.

Additional data : Vacancies and Adverts posted on the Find An Apprenticeship website
 

Find apprenticeship training 

For employers looking to take on apprentices, see find apprenticeship training if you're an employer.

The service can be used to: 

  • Search for apprenticeship training by job role or keyword
  • Find training providers who offer the apprenticeship training you choose
  • Find a named training provider you want to use
     

Breaks in learning

Apprentices may take a break in learning where they plan to return to the same apprenticeship programme. The decision to take a break in learning, the reason for the break and its expected duration must be agreed with the employer. This could include medical treatment, parental leave or leave for other personal reasons. Breaks in learning must be reported on the ILR and the employer should revise the apprenticeship agreement if required. Additional temporary flexibilities were introduced when providing apprenticeships during the COVID-19 pandemic that allowed employers and training providers to initiate and report breaks in learning in certain scenarios. A break in learning should not be recorded for short term breaks such as holidays, or when employment or an apprenticeship agreement has been terminated. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic there was a sharp increase in the numbers of learners recorded as being on a break in learning from 28,100 in 2018/19 to 77,500 in 2019/20.

In subsequent years the number of learners on a break in learning has dropped, falling to 42,300 in 2020/21, with a further fall to 38,500 in 2021/22. 

 

Employers reporting the withdrawal of apprentices due to redundancy

From 30 July 2020, employers have been able to record on the Apprenticeship Service (AS) if an apprenticeship has ended due to a redundancy. This will provide more accurate and timely data on redundancies than that captured via the ‘withdrawal reason’ on the ILR and will be a reliable ongoing source of data. 

Additionally, employers can record information about redundancies at a later date on the AS, therefore the information can suffer from ‘data lag’ with information being recorded weeks or months after the redundancy actually happened.

Additional information

For apprentices who have been made redundant, or who are at risk of redundancy, please see the Redundancy support for apprentices guidance.


Apprenticeship care leaver’s bursary payments


Apprenticeship care leaver’s bursary payments, 2018/19 to 2023/24, reported as at 09 February 2024.

Academic year

2018/19

2019/20

2020/21

2021/22

2022/23

2023/24
(reported to date)

Number of bursary payments280320210350330250

Note: Figures are rounded to the nearest 10.

Additional Funding for Employers and Training Providers

In addition to the care leavers’ bursary, training providers and employers receive a payment towards the additional cost associated with training if, at the start of the apprenticeship, the apprentice is:

  • aged between 16 and 18 years old, or
  • aged between 19 and 24 years old and has either:
  • an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan provided by their local authority or
  • has been in the care of their local authority

For more information, please refer to the apprenticeship funding rules.

 

Apprenticeship service commitments


Apprenticeship service transfers

In April 2018 it became possible for levy-paying organisations to transfer up to 10 per cent of the annual value of funds entering their apprenticeship service account to other organisations via the apprenticeship service. This increased to 25 per cent from April 2019.

As of 09 February 2024, there have been 5,460 apprenticeship service commitments entered into the apprenticeship service with training start dates in the 2023/24 academic year, where the transfer of funds between ASAs has been approved. A further 180 commitments were pending approval for the transfer of funds.

The number of fully agreed transferred commitments that have so far been recorded as apprenticeship starts on the Individualised Learner Record (ILR) in the 2023/24 academic year is 5,300.

A csv file containing breakdowns of transfers that have been recorded as starts on the ILR (as published in March 2024) can be downloaded from the ‘Additional supporting files’ accordion (see ‘Underlying data – starts arising from transferred commitments’). This file is updated alongside our quarterly releases, with the next update expected in July 2024.

Please note that providers may not record learners immediately on the ILR, so a lag may occur between a commitment being recorded in the apprenticeship service and the corresponding commitment being recorded as a start on the ILR.

Additionally, as commitments can be recorded/amended on the apprenticeship service system after the transfer approval date has passed, all data should be treated as provisional. Data are only fully captured when providers confirm details in the ILR. In the interests of transparency, what is known at this point of reporting has been included where possible.

 

Levy Transfers matching service

Pledges

As of 09 February 2024:

  • The total number of pledges made by levy-paying employers was 570.
  • The total amount pledged stood at £37.15 million.

Note: these figures reflect the cumulative total of pledges since September 2021. Those that are currently available can be found at Search funding opportunities (manage-apprenticeships.service.gov.uk).

Applications

As of 09 February 2024:

  • the total number of applications submitted was 17,468 through 2,792 different Apprenticeship Service accounts.

The total number of apprentices applied for was 53,167. This figure will include employers submitting multiple applications for the same funding to different pledges. The number of unique apprenticeship positions applied for is difficult to determine, however it is likely to be in the range of 20 to 50 per cent of the total number of apprentices applied for.

The number of approved applications was 3,246.

Reservations

From 01 April 2021, all new apprenticeship starts have been via the apprenticeship service. Employers who do not pay the apprenticeship levy must reserve apprenticeship funding for training and assessment (or have a reservation of funds completed on their behalf). Funding can be reserved up to 3 months in advance of the expected apprenticeship start date and should be reserved before apprenticeship training starts.

As of 09 February 2024:

Academic Year 

2021/22

2022/23

2023/24

Total reservations made:

169,790

138,790

84,420

of which deleted:

4,760

2,790

1,060

of which expired:

41,040

30,270

11,080

Non-levy paying apprenticeship service accounts:

76,190

63,850

45,800

Supporting providers:

960

970

890

Please note that the 2023/24 academic year is partial. All figures are provisional and subject to change, in particular figures covering the most recent academic years.
 

Flexi Job Apprenticeship Agencies

Flexi-job apprenticeship agencies are a new initiative developed by the Department for Education (DfE) in 2021. They are organisations that recruit and employ apprentices and arrange placements with multiple host businesses for the duration of their apprenticeship. They aim to support sectors and occupations that often use short-term contracts or other non-standard employment models, such as construction, digital, and creative industries. They also help employers and apprentices overcome barriers that prevent them from using the traditional apprenticeship model, such as lack of flexibility, commitment, or funding. Flexi-job apprenticeship agencies provide a managed apprenticeship service that benefits both employers and apprentices. 

Employers and apprentices can use an approved flexi-job apprenticeship agency where the agency:

  • employs the apprentice for the duration of their apprenticeship
  • arranges placements with host businesses

 

Apprenticeship starts and achievements through flexi-job apprenticeship agencies (FJAAs), 2021/22 to 2023/24 (reported to date)

Academic year

2021/22

2022/23

2023/24 

(reported 

to date)

Number of FJAA apprenticeship starts

120

640

570

Number of FJAA apprenticeship Achievements

10

30

70

Source: Apprenticeship service commitments (as at 09 February 2024) matched to starts and achievements recorded on the ILR.

Note: Figures are rounded to the nearest 10. Starts through flexi-job apprenticeship agencies (FJAAs) are identified by matching commitments made by employers on the Apprenticeship Service (AS) to starts recorded by providers in the ILR. A specific code on the AS identifies FJAA commitments and providers are able to use LDM code 386 to identify those apprentices employed by FJAAs. Matched starts are counted if they carry either of these codes and the employer is identified as being on the register of FJAAs.

Achievements are recorded where the learner has completed an apprenticeship programme aim in an academic year and has successfully passed an end point of assessment. Apprenticeships generally take over a year or more to complete, so comparisons of starts and achievements in an individual year will be misleading.

 A small number of starts (fewer than 50) have not been included above, where the provider has recorded the associated LDM code on the ILR but so far no match to the apprenticeship service has been made.

In this section we consider the trends in apprenticeship starts between 2017 and 2023. This period saw the introduction of key reforms to apprenticeships, including the apprenticeship levy, a new funding system and the completion of the transition from frameworks to the new employer-led apprenticeship standards. The transition to standards was part of the 2020 vision to increase the quality and quantity of apprenticeships.

In 2016/17, one in twenty apprenticeship starts (5%) were on standards. A year later this had increased to over two in five (44%) and by 2020/21 very nearly all starts (99%) were on standards. 

Apprenticeship frameworks were withdrawn to new learners on 31 July 2020, however a small number of starts are recorded after this date in cases where it has been agreed a learner can return to a framework after an extensive break.

Bar chart showing apprenticeship starts by frameworks and standards, 2017 to 2023

Source: Individualised Learner Record (ILR)

After increasing to 393,400 in 2018/19 (up 5% from a year earlier), apprenticeship starts fell by nearly a fifth (18%) to 322,500 in 2019/20 and remained at a similar level during 2020/21. 

Covid-19 restrictions led to a fall in starts and the number of apprenticeship vacancies being advertised, and some employer failure and redundancies. In particular, the months from March to October 2020 saw a substantial reduction in the number of starts. 

Apprenticeship starts have since recovered, with a return to the typical seasonal pattern. However, with a total of 337,100 new starts recorded in 2022/23, they remained some 14% below the level seen in 2018/19.

A line chart showing apprenticeship starts by month, 2019 to 2023.

Source: Individualised Learner Record (ILR)

Apprenticeship starts by level

The reforms to apprenticeships saw the development of employer-led standards to replace existing frameworks. This has resulted in a move away from shorter duration (intermediate) apprenticeship courses towards those at a higher level and of typically longer duration. 

Standards are designed to meet the requirements of occupations and industry sectors. They generally take longer to complete than frameworks as they include more off the job training and a rigorous end point assessment process. 

In 2017/18, there was a similar proportion of apprenticeship starts at intermediate (43%) and advanced (44%) level, but less at higher level (13%). By 2022/23, however, higher level starts accounted for 33% of all apprenticeship starts, whereas intermediate level starts accounted for 23%. The proportion of advanced level starts remained unchanged at 44%. 

In 2022/23, the number of higher-level apprenticeships starts was the highest on record and intermediate starts the lowest.

The move towards courses of longer duration means that although the number of apprenticeship starts fell by 14% between 2018/19 and 2022/23, the level of participation increased slightly over the same period, from 742,400 to 752,200. Since apprenticeships now take longer to complete the rate of starts has slowed, but overall participation has remained relatively unchanged.

Higher level apprenticeships

Higher level apprenticeships comprise four separate qualification levels (4 to 7), with starts at each level having increased since 2017/18. 

Degree (level 6) apprenticeships saw consistent year-on-year increases between 2017/18 and 2021/22. Although the rate of increase slowed in 2022/23, starts more than trebled from 6,400 in 2017/18 to 25,000.

Starts on master’s degrees (level 7) more than quadrupled from 4,500 to 21,800 over the same period, although the rate of growth slowed in the last two years.

Tier 1 sector subject areas

When looking at apprenticeship starts across the tier 1 subject areas (refer to chart below) we see some differences in trends.

Recent trends are likely to have be influenced by employer demand for more higher-level courses and greater choice in standards that are being designed with employers.

It should also be noted that we are considering subject areas in this section and not industry sectors. Data published in the department’s latest Apprenticeships in England by industry characteristics shows that industry sectors offer apprenticeships in different subject areas. For example, the construction industry sector accounted for 5,930 (or 16%) of the 37,950 apprenticeship starts in the Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies tier 1 sector subject area in 2020/21.

Health, Public Services and Care overtook Business, Administration and Law as the most popular apprenticeship subject area in 2022/23, with starts reaching close to 99,000. In particular, starts increased between 2019/20 and 2020/21, which may in part reflect an increase in demand in this sector during the covid-19 pandemic. 

Growth in Health, Public Services and Care has also been influenced by the public sector apprenticeship target and the creation of new standards designed with the sector. For example, starts on the Police Constable (Integrated Degree) standard rose from 200 in 2018/19 to 4,500 in 2022/23. 

Apprenticeship starts in Information and Communication Technology increased by 36% in the two years to 2022/23, rising from 18,400 to 25,100. It was also the only tier 1 sector subject area to see an increase in starts (up 10%) between 2021/22 and 2022/23. Starts in this subject area are now at the highest level on record.

After falling to a recent low of 20,000 in 2020/21, during the covid-19 affected period, starts in Construction, Planning and the Built Environment increased in 2021/22, rising by 31% to 26,100, This represented a recent high for the subject area and despite falling in 2022/23, starts were above pre-pandemic levels at 24,500.

Apprenticeships starts in Retail and Commercial Enterprise fell 35% between 2018/19 and 2019/20, a rate of decline which was higher than that seen in any other subject area. Starts then recovered from a low in 2020/21 as covid-19 related restrictions were removed, but at 31,000 in 2022/23 remained below the level seen before the covid-19 pandemic.

A similar pattern can be seen for apprenticeship starts in Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies, although at 13% the rate of the fall in starts between 2018/19 and 2019/20 was considerably lower than that for Retail and Commercial Enterprise. Starts also recovered from a low in 2020/21, reaching 46,000 in 2022/23, but again this was below the level seen before the covid-19 pandemic. 

The number of starts in Business, Administration and Law fell to 94,400 in 2019/20, a decrease of 24,200 (or 20%) compared to a year earlier. They have fallen again since then, but at a slower rate, to 90,700 in 2022/23. Occupation and routes have played a greater role in developing new standards, which in some cases will have provided an alternate standard for employers to choose that have a better fit to their sector than the more traditional business administration frameworks.

Apprenticeship starts by level, sector subject area and standards

When we consider the more detailed tier 2 sector subject areas and standards, we can identify changes in apprenticeship starts which help to explain recent trends.

Apprenticeship starts show a general move away from intermediate-level apprenticeships towards apprenticeships which are at a higher level and typically of a longer duration, although there is some variation between subject areas. This recent trend is largely due to the introduction of employer-led standards, which are designed to meet the requirements of occupations and industry sectors.

Health, Public Services and Care

With nearly 99,000 apprenticeship starts in 2022/23, Health, Public Services and Care was the most popular tier 1 subject area. Higher level apprenticeships accounted for 12% of Health, Public Services and Care starts in 2017/18, but by 2022/23 they accounted for 36% (or 35,800 out of 98,800).

The majority of recent growth at higher level within this subject area can be attributed to new standards, introduced since 2018. In particular, starts on Children, Young People and Families Practitioner, Police Constable (Integrated Degree) and Leader in Adult Care standards have all increased. Together they accounted for over a third (37%) of higher-level Health, Public Services and Care starts in 2022/23.

Business, Administration and Law

The number of apprenticeship starts in Business, Administration and Law fell from 111,100 in 2017/18 to 90,700 in 2022/23. Over this period the proportion of starts at intermediate level decreased from a third (33%) to less than one in ten (8%). In contrast, the proportion of starts at higher level increased from just under a quarter (24%) to more than a half (51%). 

The fall at intermediate level is largely accounted for by a decrease in starts on the Business Administration apprenticeships framework. Starts fell from 17,200 in 2017/18 to nearly zero in 2022/23, as the existing intermediate-level framework was phased out and replaced by the Business Administrator advanced standard.

Despite the fall in total Business, Administration and Law apprenticeship starts, some level 7 (master’s degree) standards have seen increases since becoming available from 2017 onwards. Starts on the Accountancy or Taxation Professional standard more than doubled from 3,700 in 2017/18 to 9,600 in 2022/23. Meanwhile starts on the Senior Leader standard increased from 3,400 in 2018/19 (the first full year of delivery) to 6,100 in 2022/23. 

Overall, higher-level apprenticeship starts in Business, Administration and Law increased by 19,500 between 2017/18 and 2022/23, with level 7 apprenticeships accounting for two thirds (67%) of this increase.

Information and Communication Technology 

Between 2017/18 and 2022/23, overall starts on Information and Communication Technology apprenticeships rose from 18,500 to 25,100; the highest on record and the only tier 1 subject area to show an increase in starts from 2021/22.

Recent growth in this subject area has been due to the uptake of advanced and higher apprenticeships, with starts on intermediate apprenticeships falling as employer-led standards replaced frameworks. The new standards have been developed by employers to better meet the requirements of occupations within the sector.

Starts on four apprenticeship standards in particular have seen increases since they were introduced:

Since its introduction in 2020/21, starts on the advanced Information Communications Technician apprenticeship standard increased from 160 to 3,600 in 2022/23. Similarly, starts on the advanced Data Technician standard more than trebled from 1,200 to 4,300 over the same period. At higher level, Business Analyst starts increased threefold between 2020/21 and 2022/23, while starts on the Data Analyst standard saw continued growth.

These recent increases mean that overall apprenticeship starts in Information and Communication Technology were at the highest level on record in 2022/23. 

Construction, Planning and the Built Environment

Intermediate apprenticeships accounted for half of all starts in Construction, Planning and the Built Environment in 2022/23; a similar level to 2019/20, but down from nearly two thirds (65%) in 2017/18. 

After falling to a low of 20,000 in 2020/21 starts increased by 31% to 26,100 in 2021/22, as the sector recovered from the impact of covid-19 restrictions. This represented a recent high for Construction, Planning and the Built Environment and despite falling in 2022/23, starts remained above pre-pandemic levels at 24,500.

The three most popular apprenticeship standards in the subject area help to explain these recent trends. After seeing year-on-year increases in 2021/22, intermediate starts on the Bricklaying apprenticeship standard decreased by 17% in 2022/23, while those on the Carpentry and Joinery standard fell by 16%. Similarly, starts on the Plumbing and Domestic Heating Technician advanced standard saw an annual increase of nearly 40% in 2021/22 and then fell by 20% in 2022/23. 

Despite the overall fall in Construction, Planning and the Built Environment apprenticeship starts in 2022/23, starts on the Maintenance and Operations Engineering Technician advanced apprenticeship continued to increase. Starts rose to 1,900, up 25% from 1,500 a year earlier and accounted for 8% of all starts in the sector in 2022/23.

Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies

In 2022/23 advanced apprenticeships accounted for nearly two thirds (65%) of all starts in Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies, compared to just over half (52%) in 2017/18. 

After falling to a low of 39,500 in 2020/21 apprenticeship starts in Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies recovered in 2021/22, rising to 49,100. However, they fell again in 2022/23 and at 46,000 were 23% below the level seen in 2018/19. 

This recent trend is mainly due to increases in intermediate and advanced level starts in the Engineering and Transportation Operations & Maintenance tier 2 sector subject areas between 2020/21 and 2021/22. Advanced apprenticeship starts in these subject areas continued to increase in 2022/23, but were offset by larger falls in intermediate starts.

Retail and Commercial Enterprise 

Apprenticeships starts in Retail and Commercial Enterprise were hit particularly hard by the impact of the covid-19 pandemic, with a fall of 35% between 2018/19 and 2019/20 being higher than that in any other tier 1 subject area. Starts then recovered in 2021/22 as covid-19 related restrictions were removed, but have fallen since then and at 31,000 remain below the level seen in 2018/19. 

Although starts at both intermediate and advanced level have fallen since 2017/18, those at higher level have nearly doubled and accounted for 9% of all starts in Retail and Commercial Enterprise in 2022/23, compared to 3% in 2017/18.

The increase at higher level is largely accounted for by the level 4 Hospitality Manager apprenticeship standard, with starts increasing from 200 in 2017/18 to 1,300 in 2022/23. 

Otherwise, there has been a general decline across each of the tier 2 subject sector areas in Retail and Commercial Enterprise over the last six years:  

Apprenticeships starts in hospitality and catering rebounded strongly in 2021/22 and at 14,000 were up by 58% compared to 2020/21. This increase accounted for the majority of the increase seen in Retail and Commercial Enterprise as a whole, compared to 2020/21. It also ended a run of three consecutive years of falling apprenticeships starts in hospitality and catering. However, in 2022/23 starts in hospitality and catering fell back and at 12,200 were down by more than a third (36%) compared to 2017/18.

After increasing between 2020/21 and 2021/22 starts in Service Enterprises and Warehousing and Distribution fell by 21% and 13% respectively in 2022/23. Apprenticeship starts in both of these tier 2 subject areas are now down by more than half since 2017/18. 

Apprenticeship starts in Retailing and Wholesaling increased to 9,900 in 2020/21, up from 7,600 a year earlier. However, they subsequently decreased in each of the next two years and at 8,000 in 2022/23 remain below the level seen in 2017/18.

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