Academic Year 2017/18

Further education: outcome-based success measures

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  1. Formatted spreadsheets containing provider and qualification level data have been included to improve accessibility to these figures for users.

The Further education: outcome-based success measures present statistics on the employment, earnings and learning outcomes of further education learners. 

This publication covers learners who achieved apprenticeships, adult (19+) FE and Skills learners, and learners who completed a traineeship in 2017/18, and tracks their outcomes in the following academic year (2018/19). Revised data for previous years is also provided.


Headline facts and figures - 2017/18

Of the 1.1 million learners who achieved a government funded further education learning aim (including apprenticeships) in the academic year 2017/18:

  • 78% of learners had a sustained destination into either employment, or learning, or both in the following year. This rate remained unchanged from 2016/17.
  • 68% of learners had a sustained employment destination in the following year. This rate also remained unchanged from the previous year.
  • 22% of learners had a sustained learning destination in the following year. This represents a 1 ppt drop from learners who achieved their aim in 2016/17.

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About these statistics

Further education: outcome-based success measures (OBSM) show the percentage of further education learners going to or remaining in an education and/or employment destination in the academic year after completing their studies. The most recent data reports on learners who completed their studies in the 2017/18 academic year and identifies their education and/or employment destinations the following year. 

OBSM separately includes estimates on the earnings outcomes of learners who achieved a Full Level 2, Full Level 3 or Level 4+ qualification and have an earnings record, a record of sustained employment and no record of further study at a Higher Education institution within the earning year. 

This publication reports on a learners highest and latest aim within the year. For example if a learner studies an aim at Level 2, and a separate Full Level 3 aim in the same academic year, their destinations will be reported against the Full Level 3 aim. Full Level 2 and Full Level 3 are counted as higher than Level 2 and Level 3 aims respectively, and apprenticeship aims are prioritised over FE & Skills aims.

The data uses the longitudinal education outcomes (LEO) dataset, which looks at how learners move through education and into the labour market by bringing together:

  • schools, further and higher education information from the Department for Education (DfE)
  • employment information from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)
  • benefit histories from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP)

In addition to the headline measures presented in this publication the underlying data files contain detailed destination and progression measures broken down by geographic areas, provider, learner demographics, type/level of learning completed and qualification title. 

Some examples of more detailed destination data are provided below:

Further detailed breakdowns can be accessed using the table builder tool, and for a full list of the data contained within this publication please see the ‘download associated files’ section at the top of this release.

Provider level figures are not currently available through the table builder tool, but are included as formatted Excel files in the ‘download associated files’ list above. Formatted versions of qualification level data are also included for ease of access. These versions can be identified by the inclusion of ‘formatted’ at the end of the file name.

Any percentage point (ppt) changes reported that appear to mismatch the percentages provided in the charts and tables are due to rounding conventions.

They are calculated using raw percentage data before being rounded to the nearest whole number. 

Overall results

In the academic year 2017/18, 1.1 million learners achieved a government funded learning aim, or completed a traineeship.

Of these learners, 78% had a sustained positive destination into employment, learning or both in the following academic year (2018/19).

To be counted in a sustained positive destination, learners have to be recorded as having participated in education and/or employment for a 6 month period (October 2018 – March 2019) in the year following study. This means attending for all of the first two terms of the academic year  at one or more education providers; spending the 6 months in employment  or having returned a self-assessment record for the destination year, or a combination of employment and learning (see methodology document for further information). Specific learning destinations such as further education, higher education or apprenticeships are reported for these learners. A sustained apprenticeship is recorded when 6 months continuous participation is recorded at any point in the destination year.

A further 12% had a positive destination in the following year, but it was not sustained.

5% of these learners had no positive destination and were in receipt of benefits in 2018/19, and the remaining 5% of learners had no identifiable destination in the data.

Please note: The outcomes in this release are presented as raw figures. They do not seek to control for differences in learner characteristics that may influence outcomes over time or across different learner populations.

Destination rates vary by the type of learning provision a learner undertakes. While sustained employment was the most likely destination for each group the proportion of learners going into this destination varied significantly.

 In the 2017/18 academic year:

  • 92% of learners who achieved an  apprenticeship went into a sustained positive destination. The majority of these destinations were in sustained employment (91%), with only 1% of apprenticeship learners having a sustained learning only destination. 
    High employment is to be expected as the apprentices are likely to remain with their employer following their apprenticeship.
     
  • 73% of learners who achieved a Further education (FE) and skills course had a sustained positive destination, with a further 15% having a positive destination that was not sustained. 
    Learners on these courses had the highest rate of learners who went on to benefits only in the destination year (7%).
     
  • 66% of learners who completed a traineeship in 2017/18 went on to a sustained positive destination. 
    Traineeships help young people get ready for an apprenticeship or job if they don’t have the appropriate skills or experience. In line with this they had the lowest sustained employment rate at 52%. However, trainees had the highest rate of sustained learning destinations (37%), and positive destinations that were not sustained (22%) compared to other provisions.
     

The percentage of learners with a sustained positive destination rose from 73% in 2013/14 to 78% in 2016/17, it remained stable at 78% in 2017/18.

The most common destination in each year was sustained employment (including self-employment), rising from 65% in 2013/14 to 68% in 2016/17 and 2017/18. In 2017/18, 55% of learners were in sustained employment only, with 13% also having a sustained learning destination.

The second most common destination was going into further learning, with 22% of learners going into a sustained learning destination. For 9% of learners this was their only sustained destination. 
The sustained learning rate in 2017/18 is 1 ppt higher than it was in 2013/14 when monitoring began, although this represents a 2 ppts fall from 2015/16 when it was highest at 24%.

It is important to note that sustained employment and learning destinations are not mutually exclusive in this chart. Self-employment is reported on separately to sustained employment in this chart, where a learner was in both employment and self-employment, they are counted within the self-employment measure here.

Looking at the destinations of all learners over the last five years there has been an increase in sustained employment (excluding self-employment) from 2013/14 (59%) to 62% in 2016/17 and 2017/18. The rate of self-employment during this time period has remained at 6% in all years. 

Learning destination rates remain relatively stable over time. The overall sustained learning rate was 22% in 2017/18. This is 1 ppt higher than 2013/14, but 2 ppts lower than in 2015/16 when it was at its highest at 24%

Within the overall sustained learning outcome sustained further education rates were the highest (17%), although this rate fell by 1 ppt in 2017/18 from 2015/16 and 2016/17 when it was 18%.

5% of learners went onto a sustained apprenticeship, this is a 1 ppt fall since 2016/17, and is now broadly in line with the rate of sustained apprenticeship destinations in 2013/14 when monitoring began.

The sustained higher education rate was 4% in 2017/18, this is 1 ppt higher than when monitoring began in 2013/14.

Sustained positive destinations varied significantly between regions in England, from 72% in the North East, to 82% in the South West.

Sustained employment rates followed broadly the same pattern as the overall sustained positive destination rate, however London (62%) had the lowest sustained employment as opposed to the North East (65%). The South West had the highest rates of sustained employment at 76%.

Sustained learning rates were highest in London (26%), and lowest in the North East (17%).

Broadly, sustained positive destination rates were higher in southern and eastern regions of England, and lower in northern and western regions.

Adult Further Education and Skills

Of the 1.1 million learners in 2017/18, 785,000 achieved a FE and Skills course as their highest learning aim.

73% of these learners went into a sustained positive destination in the 2018/19 academic year, this is a slight increase (below 1 ppt) from learners who achieved an FE & Skills aim in 2016/17. This represents the highest sustained positive destination rate for these learners since monitoring began in 2013/14 when it was 69%, a rise of 3 ppts.

The increase in sustained positive destination rates for FE & Skills learners since 2013/14 is due to a 1 ppt increase in sustained employment destinations (61%), and a 3 ppts increase in sustained learning destinations (24%).

Positive destinations that were not sustained have remained stable at 15% since 2014/15, a fall of 2 ppts since 2013/14. 

The percentage of these learners who went onto benefits only in the destination year has increased by 1 ppt to 7% since 2016/17. The proportion of these learners who had no identifiable destination in the data has remained stable since 2016/17, and fallen by 1 ppt since monitoring began.

It is important to note that sustained employment and learning destinations are not mutually exclusive in this chart.  For example, a learner may be in sustained employment, and also sustained further education. 

Self-employment is reported on separately to sustained employment in this chart. Where a learner was in both employment and self-employment, they are counted within the self-employment measure here.

The sustained employment rate (excluding self-employment) for FE & Skills learners in 2017/18 remained the same as in 2016/17 at 54%, although there was a small rise (below 1 ppt) in self-employment. 

Sustained further education destinations in 2017/18 have fallen by 1 ppt since 2016/17, although this still represents a 2 ppts increase from 2013/14. 

Sustained apprenticeship destinations have remained at 2% since 2016/17, but a 1 ppt decrease since five years earlier in 2013/14.

Sustained higher education destinations have remained stable at 4% since 2016/17, which represents a 1 ppt increase from 2013/14.

This publication reports on a learners highest and latest aim within the year. For example if a learner studies an aim at Level 2, and a separate Full Level 3 aim, their destinations will be reported against the Full Level 3 aim. Full Level 2 and Full Level 3 are counted as higher than Level 2 and Level 3 aims respectively, and apprenticeship aims are prioritised over FE & Skills aims.

Broadly speaking FE & Skills learners who studied at higher levels had higher sustained positive destination rates, although there were some notable exceptions at the highest levels. 

‘English and Maths’ aims at level 1 and level 2 had higher sustained positive destination rates than other level 1 and 2 aims, although this was a generally a result of having a higher proportion of learners going into a sustained learning destination. 

The overall sustained positive destination rate of learners who had achieved:

  • Full Level 2 was 78%
  • Full Level 3 was 84%
  • Level 4 was 86%
  • Level 5 was 84%
  • Level 6 was 83%

Learning destinations by level of learning achieved

67,000 learners achieved a Full Level 3 FE & Skills aim in 2017/18, of which 42% went into a sustained learning destination. 

The most common sustained learning destination for Full Level 3 learners was sustained higher education at 28%, followed by sustained further education at level 4 or above at 5%.

36,000 learners achieved a Full Level 2 FE & Skills aim in 2017/18, of which 32% went on to a sustained learning destination.

The most common sustained learning destination for Full Level 2 learners was a sustained Full Level 3 further education aim at 18%, followed by sustained level 3 further education aims at 6%.

242,000 learners achieved a level 2 FE & Skills aim in 2017/18, of which 14% went on to a sustained learning destination.

The most common sustained learning destinations for level 2 learners were sustained level 2 or level 3 further education aims at 3%, followed by sustained advanced or higher apprenticeships, or sustained higher education at 2%.

204,000 learners achieved a level 1 FE & Skills aim in 2017/18, of which 15% went on to a sustained learning destination.

The most common sustained learning destinations for level 1 learners were sustained below level 2 further education aims at 4%, followed by sustained level 2 or ‘English and Maths’ further education aims at 3%.

Access to Higher Education courses

18,000 learners achieved an ‘Access to Higher Education’ course in 2017/18, of which 67% went on to a sustained higher education destination in the following year, up by 2 ppts from 2016/17.

There was wide variation in the sustained higher education destination rate by sector subject area, ranging from 91% of learners in ‘Construction, planning and the built environment’ to 32% of learners in ‘Agriculture, horticulture and animal care’.

With the exception of ‘Agriculture, horticulture and animal care’ every sector subject area saw over half of learners who achieved an ‘Access to Higher  Education’ course in 2017/18 going on to a sustained higher education destination in 2018/19.

Changes since 2016/17

Since 2016/17 the rates of progression to higher education have increased in 6 of 13 sector subject areas with the largest increases (7 ppts) being in ‘Construction, planning and the built environment’, and ‘Engineering and manufacturing technologies’.

In 7 of 13 sector subject areas the rates of progression to higher education have decreased since 2016/17. The largest decrease (11 ppts) was in 'Leisure, travel and tourism', followed by ‘Agriculture, horticulture and animal care’.

The sustained positive destination rates of FE & Skills learners by region followed a similar distribution to those of all learners, with the North East having the lowest rate (66%). The highest rates were in the South West and East Midlands (76%).

Sustained employment rates for FE & Skills learners were lowest in the West Midlands (56%), followed by the North West and North East (57%). As with all learners the highest rate of sustained employment was in the South West (68%).

London had the highest rate of sustained learning (27%) followed by the North West and West Midlands (25%), whereas the North East had the lowest sustained learning rate (18%).

Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships are paid jobs that include an off-the-job programme of learning. 

Of the 276,000 learners achieving an apprenticeship as their highest aim in 2017/18, 92% had a sustained positive destination.

The overall sustained positive destination rate has remained stable at 92% since 2013/14 when monitoring began, although the make up of these destinations has changed with the percentage of apprenticeship learners in ‘sustained employment only’ increasing by 4 ppts

The percentage of apprenticeship learners in sustained learning (with or without sustained employment) has fallen by 3 ppts since 2016/17, and 4 ppts since monitoring began in 2013/14.

A high sustained positive destination rate is expected for apprenticeships as many apprentices remain with the employer following their apprenticeship.

The sustained positive destination rate for apprenticeship learners varies a lot less by level than it does for FE & Skills learners.

There is only 3 ppts difference between the level with the highest sustained positive destination rate (Level 4, 94%) and intermediate (level 2) at 92%.

Of the 149,000 learners who achieved an intermediate (Full Level 2) apprenticeship in 2017/18, 15% progressed onto a sustained advanced (Full Level 3) apprenticeship  in the 2018/19 academic year. This is 3 ppts lower than in 2016/17 when the rate was 17%, and 4 ppts lower than in academic years 2013/14 to 2015/16 when it stood at 19%. This may be a reflection of the overall fall in the number of apprenticeship starts since the introduction of the levy in April 2017.

Progression from intermediate to advanced apprenticeships varied considerably by sector subject area of the intermediate apprenticeship.

Intermediate apprenticeship learners studying an ‘Engineering and manufacturing technologies’ aim had the highest rates of progression to advanced apprenticeships at 26%, followed by those in ‘Education and training’ (21%). The sector subject area with the lowest rate of progression was ‘Information and communication technology (ICT)’ at 9%.

Changes since 2016/17

The rate of progression from intermediate to advanced level apprenticeships decreased between 2016/17 and 2017/18 in all sector subject areas with the exception of ‘Arts, media and publishing’ which had an increase of 2 ppts, and ‘Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies’ which increased slightly (below 1 ppt). The largest decreases since 2016/17 were in ‘Education and training’ and ‘Health, public services and care’ with a fall of 6 ppts each.

As part of the Government’s apprenticeship reform programme all apprenticeship frameworks will be phased out by the start of the 2020/2021 academic year. Instead, new apprenticeship standards were introduced in 2014. Apprenticeship standards are focussed on quality learning with a single end point assessment, and are developed by the employers and industry experts.

In previous reporting years the number of standard  achievements was too low for publication. 

In 2017/18 the volume of apprenticeship standards has risen to 2,700, a large enough number to be reported, however the proportion of apprenticeships that are standards (1%) remains very low in comparison to those that are framework apprenticeships (99%). 

As such, all findings below are preliminary and may change as the number of apprenticeship standards increases in future years.

In the 2017/18 academic year there were 273,400 apprenticeship frameworks and 2,700 apprenticeship standards achieved.

The overall sustained positive destination rates for apprenticeship frameworks (92%) was higher than that of apprenticeship standards (87%). 

However when broken down by level of apprenticeship this trend was reversed for all levels with the exception of intermediate apprenticeships. This was due to a high proportion of intermediate (Full Level 2) apprenticeship standard learners having no identified destination in the data. 

Further analysis of the data revealed that the majority of the intermediate level apprenticeship standards that were classed as having ‘no destination in data’ were from a single employer. This is indicative of a reporting issue rather than being an accurate reflection of destinations for intermediate level standard apprenticeships.

The profile of the destinations for learners on apprenticeship standards was notably different. A greater proportion  of learners on apprenticeship standards go into sustained employment and learning than those on frameworks, with the exception of intermediate apprenticeships.

  • For advanced apprenticeships standards the sustained positive destination rate (94%) was 2 ppts higher than apprenticeship frameworks (92%). Advanced standards had a higher sustained employment (92%), and learning (26%) than frameworks (91% and 13% respectively) of the same level.
  • A similar trend was apparent at level 4 ‘Higher’ apprenticeships, with apprenticeship standards having a 3 ppts higher sustained employment rate (95%), and 19 ppts higher sustained learning rate (36%) than apprenticeship frameworks (93%, and 16% respectively). This lead to a 3 ppts higher overall sustained positive destination rate for apprenticeship standards (97%) than frameworks (94%).
  • The numbers of standards at level 5 ‘Higher’ apprenticeships was too low (below 100) to draw any meaningful comparison.

The sustained positive destination rates of apprenticeship learners were fairly uniform across regions (92%), with the exception of London which had the lowest sustained positive destination rate (89%) and the South West which had the highest (94%).

Sustained employment followed a broadly similar pattern with London having the lowest sustained employment rate (86%) and the South West having the highest (92%). Most other regions having a sustained employment rate of 91% with the exception of the North West and North East (90%).

Sustained learning showed a different pattern across the regions of England with western regions, the East Midlands and London having the highest rates (17%), and the South East having the lowest (15%). The range of these differences was quite narrow however.

Traineeships

Traineeships are a work-based pathway programme to apprenticeships and other employment  for young people aged 16 to 24 (or up to age 25 if they have an Education Health and Care Plan) with no higher than a level 3 qualification. 

Completions were recorded under a slightly different method in 2013/14 , making the figures for 2013/14 less comparable to later years. As such comparisons are made to the 2014/15 academic year for rate changes over time.

The number of traineeship learners completing their course is reported on, rather than the number achieved, as the definition of ‘achieving’ a traineeship is based on the learner’s outcome.

Note that some traineeships go on to complete further aims at a higher level in the same academic year, and  a learner's outcomes are reported against the highest aim. Therefore, traineeship numbers presented here will be lower than those presented in the ‘Further education and skills’ publication

Percentages are calculated using unrounded figures, discrepancies in sum totals are due to rounding.

  • There were 14,000 learners who completed a traineeship as their highest aim in 2017/18. Of these learners:
  • 66% had a sustained positive destination
  • 52% went into sustained employment
  • 37% went into sustained learning

The percentage of traineeship learners with a sustained positive destination (66%) increased by 2 ppts in 2017/18, from 64% in 2016/17. This represents a 1 ppt decrease in the sustained positive destination rate since 2014/15 when consistent monitoring began. 

The proportion of traineeship learners going into any positive destination (whether sustained or not) has remained stable at 88% since the 2016/17 academic year, but represents a 2 ppts decrease since 2014/15 (90%).

The percentage of traineeship learners going into sustained:

  • Employment (52%) has increased 1 ppt since 2016/17, decreased 2 ppts since 2014/15
  • Further education (32%) has increased 3 ppts since 2016/17, and 1 ppt since 2014/15
  • Apprenticeships (22%) has increased 1 ppt since 2016/17, decreased 5 ppts since 2014/15
  • Higher education (1%) has remained stable since 2014/15

Benefit learners

Almost a quarter (23%) of learners were on benefits at the start of their learning. Of these 251,000 benefit learners:

  • 54% went on into a sustained positive destination, 31 ppts lower than learners who were not on benefits (85%)
  • 42% went into sustained employment, 34 ppts lower than learners not on benefits (76%)
  • 16% went into sustained learning, 8 ppts lower than learners not on benefits (24%)

Learners who were on benefits at the beginning of their learning aim in 2017/18 were more likely to have a destination that was not sustained (25%) compared to learners who were not on benefits (8%), and far more likely to be on benefits only with no positive destination (19%) compared to learners who were not on benefits (1%).

The differences in destination rates may be partially explained by the levels of learning undertaken by learners who were on benefits at the beginning of their aim. 

61% of learners on benefits took entry level, or level 1 learning aims, compared to 30% of learners who were not on benefits. 

Only 5% of learners on benefits undertook learning at level 3 or above compared to 24% of learners who were not on benefits.

When comparing learners at Full Level 3 FE & Skills aims specifically there is still a wide gap however, with benefit learners having a sustained positive destination rate of 68%, 18 ppts lower than learners not on benefits (86%). The gap in sustained employment is even more pronounced with the rate for benefit learners (41%) being 27 ppts lower than non-benefit learners (68%).

The outcomes of benefit learners were highly variable depending on the type of provision with benefit learners undertaking apprenticeships having the highest sustained positive destination rate (83%), and sustained employment rate (81%).

The sustained positive destination rates of benefit learners on FE & Skills courses was 54%, followed by traineeships at 53%

Benefit learners on FE & Skills courses had the lowest sustained employment rate (41%), 4 ppts lower than those on traineeships (46%).

Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) learners

A quarter of learners (25%) were from a black, asian or minority ethnicity (BAME) background. Of these 269,000 learners:

  • 72% had a sustained positive destination
  • 54% were in sustained employment in the following year
  • 32% were in sustained learning in the following year

White learners had a higher sustained positive destination (79%) than learners from a BAME background (72%), a difference of 7 ppts.

The sustained employment rate of BAME (54%) and white (73%) learners, have a larger discrepancy than the sustained positive destination rates with a difference of 19 ppts

The sustained learning rate of BAME learners (32%) was 13 ppts higher than that of white learners (19%). 

The rates of BAME learners with a destination that wasn't sustained (16%), that were on benefits only (6%) or had no destination in the data (7%) were 5 ppts, 1 ppt, and 2 ppts higher than white learners respectively (11%, 5%, and 5%).

As with benefit learners, the levels of learning that BAME learners undertake may partially explain these discrepancies, with over half (57%) of BAME learners undertaking an entry or level 1 aim compared to 31% of white learners.

When looking specifically at learners that achieved a Full Level 3 FE & Skills aim the 2 ppts difference in sustained positive destination rate is less pronounced between BAME (82%) and white learners (84%) than when looking across all learners regardless of level. The trend of BAME learners having lower sustained employment rates (60% compared to 67%) and higher sustained learning rates (48% to 40%) is still present though.

Variations in outcomes by provider

Associated data files PR01 - PR04 that accompany this release contain detailed destination rates for every FE provider. However, the overall positive destination rate for each provider will be greatly affected by the type of learners supported and type of learning they deliver. 

To attempt to take account of this, additional analysis is provided in data files PQ01 – PQ03 which groups learners into specific categories (based on characteristics and level of learning) and ranks providers in terms of positive destination rates for those groups of learners. After creating a ranking for every learner category (PQ03), we calculate the percentage of learners in each quintile for each provider (PQ01), and also report how much of a provider’s outcomes fall within each quintile (PQ02). 

See page 17, ‘Outcomes by learner categories’ of the accompanying methodology note for a more detailed explanation. 

Provider level destination data is currently unavailable using the table builder tool, to access destination measures by individual providers please download the relevant dataset  (PR01-PR04, and PQ01-PQ03) from the ‘download associated files’ section at the top of this release.

Of 1,040 providers of further education and skills courses and apprenticeships. Of the 1,040 providers just 8% had all of their provision in the top quintile in 2017/18, and 29% had none of their provision in the top quintile.

The majority of provision (85%) in the FE sector is delivered by FE colleges and private sector providers. FE colleges tend to have more provision in the top two quintiles (45%) compared to private sector providers (35%).

Community learning

There were 381,000 learners whose highest aim was in community learning in 2017/18. Community learners are a distinct group from the 1.1 million learners reported on in other sections of this publication.

Of these learners, in the year following their learning aim:

  • 67% had a sustained positive destination
  • 59% were in sustained employment
  • 17% were in sustained learning
  • 40% were in some form of learning whether sustained or otherwise

There is a large increase in sustained learning rates when including the non-sustained learning. This is because community learners typically move into another community learning course or other qualifications that are structured in a similar way to community learning. That is to say that these courses tend to be short but intensive.

Progression

Last year the department used the National Pupil Database (NPD) in conjunction with the Individualised Learner Record (ILR)  and Higher Education Statistics Authority (HESA) data to detail students’ attainment throughout their educational history . The resulting dataset includes attainment records from schools, and further and higher education institutions allowing for robust comparisons over time. 

This has enabled experimental statistics on progression to be calculated for those learners whose full educational history has been recorded. This cohort is limited to learners who were born in 1988 or later, as this is the earliest year the department has attainment data available for. 

The method of these measures has been refined since last year, full details of which can be found in the accompanying methodology document. The revised data has been calculated for previous years, allowing comparisons over time. Please note that the data displayed in this section of the publication is experimental.

Of the 1.1 million learners achieving their further education aim in 2017/18, 275,000 (26%) were born in or after 1988, and had a full educational history recorded by the department. 
The rest of the analysis in this section relates specifically to this group of learners.

Studying at this level of learning for the first time

Data on studying a particular level of learning for the first time is presented to provide further insight into learners’ pathways through further education and training. Care should be taken when interpreting the data, particularly when making comparisons between different subgroups or seeking to draw wider conclusions. In particular, there may be valid reasons for a learner to take a qualification at a level of learning they have previously achieved, including: 

  • Where a learner is moving from an academic to a technical pathway, and needs to develop the core technical skills and knowledge that will enable them to progress to higher levels
  • Where the qualifications are complementary, such as a qualification in English or maths that is required to access a technical or vocational qualification at the same level
  • Where a learner is retraining in order to develop a new career pathway, or to update their skills after a significant career break in order to re-enter employment.

For 21% of these 275,000 learners the aim they achieved in 2017/18 was the first time they had achieved that level of learning.

Apprenticeship learners were more likely to be studying at their level of learning for the first time (30%) than FE & Skills learners (14%).

The rate of young learners who were studying at their level of learning for the first time dropped by 1 ppt from 21% to 19% between 2013/14 to 2015/16, before rising by 2 ppts to 21% again in 2017/18.

When looking at this rate split by provision the trend from 2013/14 to 2015/16 remains similar, albeit with apprenticeship learners having higher rates than FE & Skills learners, before diverging in 2016/17 and 2017/18.

Since 2015/16 the rate of learners studying their level for the first time has increased by 7 ppts for apprenticeship learners from 23% to 30%, and fallen by 4 ppts for FE & Skills learners from 17% to 14%.

In 2017/18 the gap in this rate between apprenticeship learners, and learners on FE & Skills courses is 16 ppt, up from 6 ppts in 2015/16.

In 2017/18 14% of learners on FE & Skills courses were studying at their level of learning for the first time, down 1 ppt from 15% in 2016/17. There was wide variation between this rate by level of learning however, ranging from 1% at Entry/Level 1 to 93% at Level 4.

Broadly speaking, for FE & Skills aims learners at higher levels of learning were more likely to be achieving their level of learning for the first time, although learners at level 5 (66%) were less likely to be achieving their level for the first time than learners at level 4 (93%).

Only 1% of level 1 learners had achieved a level 1 aim for the first time. This rate was 4% for learners at level 2, but rose to 18% for learners achieving a Full Level 2.

Over a third of learners at level 3 (37%) and Full Level 3 (43%) achieved that level for the first time.

Changes since 2016/17

Since 2016/17 the rate of learners achieving at their level for the first time fell at levels 2 and 5, with the largest decrease being at level 5 (3 ppts).

The rate increased at Full Level 2 and 3, and level 3, with the largest increase being at level 3 (other) at 4 ppts.

At Entry/Level 1, and level 4 the rate remained the same in 2017/18 as it was in 2016/17.

The rate of apprenticeship learners achieving at their level for the first time was 30% in 2017/18, up 5 ppts since 2016/17 when it was 25%.

Apprenticeship learners also show variation between levels in the proportion of learners achieving their level for the first time, ranging from 18% for intermediate (Full Level 2) apprenticeships to 92% for higher (level 4) apprenticeships. 

As with FE & Skills learners there was a general trend of more learners at higher levels achieving for the first time, although again the rate for learners on a level 5 apprenticeship (88%) was lower than that of learners at level 4 (92%). The difference of 4 ppts was smaller for apprenticeship learners however.

Changes since 2016/17

The rate of apprenticeship learners achieving their level for the first time rose for Intermediate (Full Level 2) and Higher (level 5) by 5 ppts and 2 ppts respectively. Higher (level 4) and Advanced (Full Level 3) apprenticeships remained the same as 2016/17. The largest increase in this rate was seen in Intermediate (level 2) apprenticeships where it rose by 5 ppts from 13% in 2016/17 to 18% in 2017/18.

Progression for learners with a further learning destination

Of the 1.1 million learners in 2017/18, 113,000 (11%) were born after 1988, had a full educational history recorded by the department, and went on to a further learning destination.

The two measures described in this section are designed to give the proportion of learners who progress from their learning aim into higher levels of learning in the year following. ‘

  • 'Progression from achieved aim’ details the percentage of learners that went on to study a learning aim of a higher level than they just achieved. 
  • 'Progression for learner overall’ gives the percentage of learners that progressed on to a level of learning higher than they have attained at any point in their educational history.

65% of these learners progressed to a higher level of learning in the 2018/19 academic year than the level they had achieved in 2017/18, and 48% of these learners progressed onto their highest level of learning so far.

The percentage of learners who progressed onto a higher level of learning than they had achieved in the previous year remained stable since 2016/17 at 65%, although this represents a 2 ppts rise from 2013/14 when the rate was 63%.

Learners who progressed to their highest level of learning overall rose by 1 ppt in 2017/18 to 48%, this is 7 ppts higher than in 2013/14 when the rate was 40%.

Learners who achieved an apprenticeship were more likely to progress to a higher level of learning than students studying a further education and skills course. 

The percentage of apprenticeship learners progressing onto a higher level of learning in 2018/19 than they had achieved in 2017/18 (79%) was 16 ppts higher than for FE & Skills learners (62%).

The rate of learners progressing to their highest level so far in the destination year for apprenticeships (60%) was 21 ppts higher than for FE & Skills learners (39%).

For all levels of aims achieved in 2017/18 regardless of provision over half of the learners with a learning destination went on to a higher level of learning in 2018/19. 

There was considerable variation by level in terms of progression from an FE & Skills course to a higher level of learning, ranging from 51% for Level 2 courses, to 77% for learners at level 5. 

The variation in FE & Skills courses was more pronounced for learners who progressed to their highest level of learning so far however, which ranged between 16% for Entry/Level 1 aims, to 75% for Full Level 3 aims. 

Progression to a higher level of learning in the destination year for apprenticeship learners also showed variation between levels, ranging between 55% for Higher (Level 5) apprenticeships, and 85% for Intermediate (Level 2) apprenticeships. 

Intermediate apprenticeship learners were more likely to progress to their highest level of learning so far (57%)  than their FE & Skills counterparts (Full Level 2: 42%). 

This was trend was reversed for Advanced (Level 3) apprenticeships (63%) though, as 75% of achievers of Full Level 3 FE & Skills courses progressed to their highest level of learning so far.

Earnings

Earnings estimates are based on information recorded through the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) system used to collect Income Tax and National Insurance from employment by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC). Learners are only included in the figures if they have an earnings record on the P14 (HMRC data) and a record of sustained employment on the P45 (HMRC data) or in the Real Time Information submitted to HMRC in more recent years, and no record of further study at a Higher Education institution. 

The PAYE records from HMRC do not include reliable information on the hours worked in employment so it is not possible to accurately distinguish between learners in full time and part time employment. 

See the quality and methodology information that accompanies this release for more detail (see Section 4, page 19). 

When interpreting the results below, it should be remembered that some of the difference in earnings could be a result of factors other than the qualification achieved, such as: 

  • the number and proportion of achievers in part time employment,
  • the employment history of achievers,
  • pay conditions within the local labour market,
  • any additional income recorded through the self-assessment tax system,
  • characteristics of individual learners.

The outcomes in this release are presented as raw figures. They do not seek to control for differences in learner characteristics that may influence outcomes over time or across different learner populations.

Earnings five years post training

Median annualised earnings one year after study for learners who achieved in academic year 2012/13 were:

  • £14,650 for intermediate apprenticeships - rising 32%, to £19,350 five years after study
  • £17,040 for advanced apprenticeships - rising 24%, to £21,170 five years after study
  • £18,600 for level 4 higher apprenticeships - rising 48%, to £27,560 five years after study
  • £27,460 for level 5+ higher apprenticeships - rising 6%, to £29,030 five years after study
  • £14,410 for Full Level 2 FE & Skills courses - rising 24%, to £17,890 five years after study
  • £12,640 for Full Level 3 FE & Skills courses - rising 45%, to £18,270 five years after study
  • £19,360 for level 4 FE & Skills courses - rising 17%, to £22,670 five years after study
  • £23,270 for level 5 FE & Skills courses - rising 12%, to £26,140 five years after study

For all levels of learning in both apprenticeship and FE & Skills provision, earnings steadily increase each year after achievement with the exception of Higher (Level 5+) apprenticeships.

At each level of learning earnings for apprenticeships are higher than earnings for the equivalent level of FE & Skills courses.

On average, median annualised earnings rose 7% every year for intermediate, 6% for advanced, 10% for level 4 higher, and  1% for level 5 higher apprenticeships.

For FE & Skills courses the median annualised earnings rose 6% for Full Level 2, 10% for Full Level 3, 4% for level 4, and 3% for level 5.

Earnings one year post training

For learners who achieved their course in academic year 2017/18, the median annualised earnings in the first full tax year after training were:

  • £17,010 for intermediate apprenticeships
  • £19,170 for advanced apprenticeships
  • £23,360 for higher (level 4) apprenticeships
  • £26,700 for higher (level 5+) apprenticeships
  • £13,230 for Full Level 2 FE & Skills courses
  • £13,210 for  Full Level 3 FE & Skills courses
  • £17,680 for level 4 FE & Skills courses
  • £17,160 for level 5 FE & Skills courses

Full Level 3 and advanced apprenticeship earnings by sector subject area (tier 2)

The median annualised earnings one year after study of Full Level 3 FE & Skills learners varies significantly between sector subject areas.

One year after study, median annualised earnings for learners who achieved a Full Level 3 FE & Skills course in academic year 2017/18 were: 

  • highest in the ‘Horticulture and forestry’ sector subject area at £20,710
  • lowest for courses in ‘Manufacturing technologies’ at £10,090
  • the median earnings of the highest sector subject area were over double those of the lowest

Within some sector subject areas earnings had a wide range between the upper and lower quartiles of earnings 

  • this was widest in ‘Building and construction' for which the lower quartile was £9,930 and the upper quartile was £28,090
  • followed by ‘Nursing, and subjects and vocations allied to medicine’, which ranged from £9,270 at the lower quartile to £22,730 at the upper quartile

Large variations in median annualised earnings can also be seen for advanced apprenticeships across sector subject areas. 

One year after study, median annualised earnings for learners who achieved an advanced apprenticeship in academic year 2017/18 were: 

  • highest in Engineering (£29,870) and Manufacturing Technologies (£28,700).
  • lowest in Child Development and Well Being (£15,140), Service Enterprises (£14,290) and Direct Learning Support (£13,300)

The median annualised earnings for advanced apprenticeships in ‘Manufacturing technologies’ were far higher than earnings in the same sector subject area for FE & Skills learners.

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