In 2019/20, the number of matched apprenticeship starts fell in every size of enterprise compared to 2018/19. Small enterprises (those with fewer than 50 employees) saw the largest decrease in matched starts of 19%, around 18,600.
Apprenticeship starts in large enterprises fell from the highest point in the series in 2018/19 (225,000) by 17% to reach 185,600 in 2019/20. Starts in medium sized enterprises also fell by 17% (7,000) since 2018/19.
Similarly, there has been a decrease in the number of starts across all enterprise sizes since the introduction of the levy in 2016/17, with small enterprises seeing a 51% decrease and medium enterprises a 54% decrease. Large enterprises saw a smaller decrease of 11%.
The statistics presented here relate to matched apprenticeship starts only, and so are different from the official figures published in the DfE Apprenticeships and Traineeships National Statistics.
In 2019/20, 62% of apprenticeship starts were in large enterprises, 11% in medium sized and 27% in small enterprises. This is almost unchanged since last year.
Since the introduction of the apprenticeship levy in 2016/17, large enterprises have increased their share of apprenticeship starts from 46% to 62% in 2019/20, whereas small and medium sized enterprises share have both fallen slightly.
In 2019/20, most sectors still have fewer apprenticeship starts compared to 2016/17, before the levy was introduced, and fewer starts than 2018/19. The ‘Arts/Entertainment’ sector saw the biggest fall since 2016/17 (down by 58%), and a 37% decrease since 2018/19.
The ‘Public Administration’ sector was the only sector to see an increase since 2016/17, with 29% more apprenticeship starts, and a small increase of 6% in apprenticeship starts since 2018/19. The ‘Professional/Scientific’ sector also saw a small increase of 4% in apprenticeship starts since 2016/17.
The highest number of apprenticeship starts per 1,000 people in employment occurred in the ‘Public Administration’ sector, with 28 per 1,000 people in employment starting an apprenticeship in 2019/20. The next highest was ‘Human Health and Social Work’ with 19 starts, and ‘Construction’ with 18 apprenticeship starts per 1,000 people in employment.
Despite having the third highest number of apprenticeship starts, the sector ‘Wholesale and Retail Trade’ had one of the lowest rates of apprenticeship starts with 7 per 1,000 people in employment. This is due to this sector having the most people in employment in 2019 (ONS Business Register and Employment Survey, 2019).
Please note that apprenticeship starts in the 'Public administration' sector will not match published statistics on Public Sector apprenticeship starts (available here ). Public sector starts will be spread across several industry sectors (such as ‘Health /social work’ as well as ‘Public administration’).
The proportion of starts by enterprise size varies considerably across industry sectors. For example, in 2019/20 85% of apprenticeship starts in the ‘Other Service Activities’ sector were with small enterprises, whereas 98% of starts in ‘Public Administration and Defence’ were with large enterprises.
Since the introduction of the apprenticeship levy in 2016/17, most sectors saw a decrease in apprenticeship starts in all enterprise sizes.
However, some sectors saw an increase in starts in large enterprises by 2019/20: ‘Professional/Scientific’ (81% increase), ‘Information/communication’ (46% increase) and ‘Public Administration’ (30% increase).
As expected given the criteria for the apprenticeship levy, starts supported by ASA levy funds continued to be concentrated amongst large enterprises in 2019/20. Therefore, when examining the data by enterprise size and sector, sectors dominated by large enterprises also had most starts supported by ASA levy funds.
For instance, apprenticeship starts amongst large enterprises in the 'Human Health and Social Work' sector were most likely to be supported by ASA levy funds (18% of starts in that sector), followed by 'Public Administration' (15% of starts in that sector).
Female apprenticeship starts were predominately in the ‘Human Health and Social Work’ sector in 2019/20, with 53,100 starts, accounting for 37% of all female starts. Within this sector, 64% of these starts were within the ‘25+’ age group.
Male apprenticeship starts were most likely to occur in the ‘Construction’ sector (21,800 starts) or the ‘Public Administration' sector (21,200 starts), with starts in both these sectors making up 28% of all male apprenticeship starts. In the ‘Construction’ sector, 50% of these starts were amongst the ‘Under 19’ age group.
The ‘Other Service Activities’ sector was the sector with the highest proportion of under 19 year olds in 2019/20 (under 19’s made up 62% of starts in this sector).
In 2019/20, medium sized enterprises had the highest proportion of their apprenticeship starts of learners living in the 20 per cent most deprived areas (24%).
The proportion of apprenticeship starts from learners living in the 20 per cent most deprived areas has generally been decreasing since 2016/17 across all enterprise sizes and for small and large enterprises the rate is now the lowest since the series began in 2012/13.