The Department for Education has revealed provisional data on the number of apprenticeship starts for 2019/20 vs the previous academic year, revealing an 18% drop.

The statistics show just 319,200 starts last year, compared to 389,000 in 2018/19. Unfortunately, a drop was expected due to COVID-19, with recruiters struggling to attract remote learners. Apprentices aged 16-18 were hardest hit overall, with the drop reaching 22%, then increasing in July to a whopping 64%.

Between the initial lockdown in March to July, the stats show only 58,160 apprentice starts, that’s almost half of the 107,750 that were reported for the same period last year.

The Department of Education has said that the data is not final, this will become available later in the year, which means these current numbers are not necessarily an accurate description of the true impact of lockdown.

AELPs Managing Director, Jane Hickie commented: “The government has taken some welcome steps recently to support apprentices who have been made redundant but as the furlough scheme unwinds, we are sadly hearing of more apprentices becoming unemployed especially in sectors like hospitality.

“To help create new opportunities on the programme, ministers need to replicate the Kickstart scheme and start subsidising the wages of new young apprentices.

“They also need to do more to protect the jobs of tens of thousands of existing apprentices who can’t complete their programmes right now because of bureaucracy preventing them from being properly assessed while the COVID restrictions remain.”

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