The Drop in Apprenticeship Numbers Explained
There has been a 61% drop in the number of new apprentices starting their programmes, according to data released by the Department for Education. This comes 3 months after changes to apprenticeship funding were introduced.
The apprenticeship levy was introduced for the largest companies in May 2017. And May also saw the introduction of new mandatory cash contributions of 10% of the cost of the apprenticeship training programme, which has a big impact on small and micro business. This works out at a pricey £900 per apprentice (unless they are between 16-18).
Another potential reason for the drop in numbers? The introduction of the new Trailblazer apprenticeship standards. Most professionals welcomed the new rigorous criteria, however some training providers were nervous about starting on new standards and the additional challenge of preparing learners for the tough new, independently assessed, end-point assessments.
Hilary Hall, NHF’s chief executive said, “Worries about new standards will have contributed to the drop, but the NHF has consistently warned that changes to apprenticeship funding for small and micro businesses – who make up the vast majority of employers in our sector – would lead to a catastrophic fall in take-up for apprenticeships.
Businesses are facing a raft of increasing employment costs from the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage, plus pensions auto-enrolment and now compulsory cash contributions for apprenticeships, all coming at a time when our sector faces increasing competition and the economic climate is increasingly uncertain.”
She adds: “We strongly urge the government to re-think its policy on apprenticeship funding and provide more support for small and micro businesses.”