We are committed to reaching 3 million apprenticeship starts in England by 2020 and will ensure they deliver the skills employers and the economy need for growth.

  • Apprenticeships already benefit employers, apprentices and the economy. High quality apprenticeships are essential to support our employers and to help our economy to prosper in the years to come.
  • The English Apprenticeships 2020 vision document outlines the Government’s plan to increase the quality and quantity of apprenticeships to reach commitment of 3 million apprenticeships by 2020.
  • We are doubling the annual level of spending on apprenticeships between 2010-11 and 2019-20 in cash terms to £2.5bn, which will be funded by the new apprenticeship levy.
  • Apprenticeships are full time paid jobs with training. The locations and sectors where apprenticeships are available are determined by employers choosing to offer apprenticeships and recruit apprentices.
  • Employer-led apprenticeship reforms continue to improve the quality of apprenticeships for all, providing the skills that employers need.
  • We will roll out many more Degree Apprenticeships, combining a high quality degree with an apprenticeship. Higher and Degree Apprenticeships are widening access to the professions and providing higher level technical skills employers need to improve productivity and giving young people an equally valid career route as going to university.
  • Apprenticeships give young people the chance to reach their potential, giving them what it takes to achieve a successful career and secure finances in the years ahead.
  • Apprenticeships are the best route to skilled employment for people of all ages and genders and can offer a real opportunity for women to re-enter the labour market, perhaps after having taken time out for whatever reason.
  • We are taking action to support the growth of apprenticeships to meet our 3 million commitment – working with large and small businesses to begin or expand their programmes, setting new expectations for public sector bodies and through public procurement.
  • The public sector will fully play a part in delivering more apprenticeships. The Enterprise Act will introduce legislation to enable Government to set targets for public bodies. 180 responses were received to the recent consultation which are currently being analysed. We will publish the Government Response in the near future.
  • Measures proposed in the Enterprise Act will also protect the term ‘apprenticeship’ to prevent misuse by providers in England. Government Response.
  • We have changed government procurement rules so that all relevant bids for central government contracts worth £10 million or more and lasting 12 months or more must demonstrate a clear commitment to apprenticeships.
  • A UK-wide levy will be introduced in April 2017 for all employers in public and private sector with a pay bill of £3m or more, to help fund the increase in quantity and quality of apprenticeship training in England. As skills policy is a devolved area the Devolved Administrations will receive their fair share of the income from the levy, and continue to have complete flexibility over how to use it to support businesses in their territories. Employer guidance on the apprenticeship levy was published 21 April.


Apprenticeship Reforms

  • Employers designing apprenticeship standards that are more responsive to the needs of business.
  • Giving employers control of the funding so that they become more demanding customers.
  • Increasing the quality of apprenticeships through more rigorous assessment and grading at the end of the apprenticeship.



  • Over 150 Trailblazers involving more than 1300 employers with 231 standards published (of which over 60 are Higher and Degree Apprenticeships) and more than 150 new standards in development.  The new apprenticeships are in a broad range of sectors from nuclear to fashion, law, banking and defence.  There have been over 1,400 starts on new standards in occupations such as Software Developer and Aerospace Engineer.
  • The first apprenticeship starts on the new standards began in September 2014.



Funding Reform

Giving employers control over funding for apprenticeships continues to be an essential feature of our reform programme.  2016-17 is a transitional year before the apprenticeship levy comes into effect.  We will continue the funding pilot for standards, where government pays £2 for every £1 an employer invests, alongside the existing approach to funding framework based apprenticeships.  This will be the last year in which government funding for apprenticeships is largely grant funded.  From April 2017, apprenticeships will be funded from the apprenticeship levy and we will work closely with employers on the details of its design.  The outline of the funding model from April 2017 was published in the Employer Guide in April, bringing frameworks and standards on to a common funding approach.  Details of provisional funding rates for co-investment, funding bands and incentives will be published at the end of June.




We are committed to reaching 3 million apprenticeship starts in England by 2020. There were 2.4 million apprenticeship starts over the previous Parliament. The following table show apprenticeship starts by Age and Level from 2010/11 to 2014/15 and 2015/16 reported to date.

There were 499,900 apprenticeship starts in the 2014/15 academic year of which 125,900 were under 19.

All age government funded Apprenticeship participation increased to 871,800 in the 2014/15 academic year, up 2.4 per cent on 2013/14 and the highest number on record.


Apprenticeship Starts by Level and Age, 2010/11 to 2014/15 and 2015/16 (Aug-Jan reported to date)



2012/13 2013/14 2014/15 % Change 2010/11 to 2014/15 % Change  2013/14 to 2014/15 2015/16 Aug-Jan
Starts (Reported to Date)
Intermediate (Level 2) 301,100 292,800 286,500 298,300 -0.9% 4.1% 144,200
Advanced (Level 3) 153,900 207,700 144,700 181,800 18.1% 25.6% 95,800
Higher (Level 4+) 2,200 9,800 9,200 19,800 Over 500% 114.5% 11,100
Under 19 131,700 114,500 119,800 125,900 -4.4% 5.1% 84,200
19-24 143,400 165,400 159,100 160,200 11.7% 0.7% 77,100
25+ 182,100 230,300 161,600 213,900 17.5% 32.4% 89,800
Total 457,200 510,200 440,400 499,900 9.3% 13.5% 251,100
    of which 19+ 325,500 395,700 320,700 374,000 14.9% 16.6% 166,900



  • 53.0% of all apprenticeship starts in 2014/15 were females 52.9% in 2013/14.
  • 10.6% of those starting an Apprenticeship in 2014/15 had a BAME background
  • In 2014/15, 44,090 of those starting an apprenticeship declared a disability or learning difficulty (LDD). This is 8.8% of the total starts.



Statistical First Release 23 March:

Starts by geography (region, constituency and Local Authority):






  • Apprentices – The lifetime benefits associated with the acquisition of apprenticeships at Level 2 and 3 are very significant, standing at between £48,000 and £74,000 for Level 2 and between £77,000 and £117,000 for Level 3 Apprenticeships[1]. Higher apprentices could earn £150,000 more on average over their lifetime compared to those with L3 vocational qualifications[2].  89% of apprentices are satisfied with their apprenticeship; 97% of apprentices said their ability to do the job had improved, and 92% of apprentices said their career prospects had improved[3].
  • Employers – 87% of employers said they were satisfied with the programme, 76% say that productivity has improved and 75% reported that apprenticeships improved the quality of their product or service[4].
  • The Economy as a whole – The latest research[5], published June 2015, demonstrates the high level of return to investment delivered by the apprenticeship programme, indicating that adult apprenticeships at level 2 and level 3 deliver £26 and £28 of economic benefits respectively for each pound of Government investment.


SPENDING 2010-2015

The following table shows actual spending figures for Financial Years 2010-2014 and the baseline budget for 2015-16:

£K FY2010-11 FY2011-12 FY2012-13 FY2013-14 FY2014-15 FY2015-16
16 to18 inclusive 744,870 758,966 670,211 717,575 783,198 789,600**
19 and over 450,880 624,602 753,886 737,022 776,573 770,000
TOTAL 1,195,750 1,383,568 1,424,097 1,454,597 1,559,771 1,559,600

Notes:** For internal use only.  These figures are as per the current 2015-16 budget delegation letters from DfE to EFA – it includes the additional £55m ring-fenced funding for AGE and funding for EOP but excludes non-participation (consistent with the actual figures for previous years).  The 2015-16 budget figure will be updated with actual spend once the EFA 2015-16 Annual Report and Accounts are finalised.

Please note that the figures for Financial Year 2015-16 are for internal use only: Adult skills funding is prioritised where its impact is greatest and our priorities remain focused on apprenticeships, traineeships, and supporting unemployed people to improve their skills for work and all adults to gain a good standard in  maths and English.  For this academic year (2015/16), our total investment in apprenticeships will be around £1.5 billion but this is a demand led budget which responds to local employer and learner demand.


FUNDING 2016 -2020

The table below provides the latest provisional figures for our apprenticeships budgets (excluding non-participation). PLEASE NOTE: Only BIS figures are public. HMT have asked that the DfE and Totals are not used publically until they confirm otherwise.

16-17 17-18 18-19 19-20
£m £m £m £m
DfE 778 788 849 906
BIS 926 1,076 1,247 1,423
Total Apprenticeships 1,704 1,854 2,096 2,329
  • We are doubling the annual level of spending on apprenticeships between 2010-11 and 2019-20 in cash terms to £2.5bn.
  • The apprenticeships levy will raise £3 billion in the UK. Spending on apprenticeships in England will be £2.5 billion, and Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will receive their fair share of the levy.
  • Of the £2.5bn that will be spent in England, the total investment in adult apprenticeships in England will be £1.485 billion by 2019-20, and DfE is forecasting to invest about £1bn in 2019-20 (the remainder of the £2.5bn) on apprenticeships for 16-18 year olds.



Apprenticeships Comms Campaign: We launched a new apprenticeships communications campaign in May promoting the benefits of apprenticeships to young people, their influencers and employers – it builds on the previous successful Get In Go Far campaign.  £13 million invested in this campaign by the end of the 2016/17fy.


National Apprenticeships Week 14-18 March: There were 31,897 pledges on the pledge-o-meter– of this, 30,126 were apprenticeships and 1,771 are traineeships. This surpassed the 23,000 pledges from last year.


National Insurance contributions:  From 6 April 2016 employers are not required to pay employer National Insurance contributions for apprentices under age of 25 on earnings up to the upper earnings limit.



Apprenticeship Levy:  Employer guidance on the apprenticeship levy was published 21 April.  A UK-wide levy will be introduced in April 2017 for all employers in public and private sector with a pay bill of £3m or more, to help fund the increase in quantity and quality of apprenticeship training in England.  As skills is a devolved matter it will be for the Devolved Administrations to decide how funds raised from the levy should be used in their administrations.  Employers in England who pay the levy will choose and pay for the apprenticeship training and assessment they want through the digital apprenticeship service.  From April 2017, employers will receive a 10% top-up to the funds entering their digital account every month and this will be available for them to spend on apprenticeship training.  Employers in England that do not pay the levy will not need to use the digital apprenticeship service to pay for training and assessment.  They will be asked to make a small contribution towards the cost of the training and assessment and government will pay as well.  Both the employer and the government will pay the training provider direct.


Apprenticeship Grant for Employers (AGE):  AGE has been extended until the end of the 2016/17 academic year.  Eligible employers can receive a £1,500 grant per apprentice (aged 16 to 24) for up to five new apprentices currently.  It is available to businesses with fewer than 50 employees, who have not taken on an apprentice in the last year.  Provisional figures show that between February 2012 and January 2016 there were 193,700 apprenticeship starts for which a payment was made through AGE.  A further 7,000 were in the pipeline (started but not yet paid).  AGE funding has been devolved to some city regions as part of increasing local decision making powers.


Institute for Apprenticeships:  A new independent body, led by employers, will be fully operational by April 2017 to support the quality of apprenticeship standards in England. It will be responsible for setting quality criteria for the development of apprenticeship standards and assessment plans; reviewing, approving or rejecting them; advising on the maximum level of Government funding available for standards; and quality assuring some end point assessments.


Apprentice National Minimum Wage (NMW):  The rate for apprentices (or if aged 19, for their first year only) is £3.30.  This is the legal minimum pay per hour.  Most receive more; a median basic hourly pay rate of £6.31 for Level 2 and 3, and £9.68 for Level 4 and 5 Higher Apprentices. From 1 October 2016 the rate will increase by 3% to £3.40 per hour.


National Living Wage:  The introduction of the National Living Wage from April 2016 will mean a 7.5% increase in hourly pay for someone aged 25 or over on the National Minimum Wage. Apprentices aged 25 and over will be entitled to at least £7.20 per hour.


Care Leavers:  We are currently investigating a range of options to support care leavers with their transition into work.  This includes considering how apprenticeships and study programmes including, traineeships can support care leavers. From 2016/17 employers taking on care leavers aged 19+ as apprentices will be entitled to the full funding rate paid for 16-18 year old apprentices.


Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) 2020:  We are supporting the Prime Minister’s 2020 vision by increasing the proportion of BAME apprentices by 20% by 2020.


Degree Apprenticeships:  Employers and universities are co-designing apprenticeships to meet full occupational competency where the apprentice completes a degree (bachelor’s or master’s) as part of their apprenticeship.  These apprenticeships give people the opportunity to attain a degree from some of our best universities whilst training in a top flight career.  Degree Apprenticeships are already live in sectors such as Automotive, Banking, Digital Industries, Chartered Surveying, Aerospace and the Nuclear industry.  We expect to see significant growth in Degree Apprenticeships across this Parliament.  £10 million fund to boost the number of degree apprenticeships available, providing more opportunities for young people to fulfil their potential was announced in March 2016.


Enterprise Act: (4 May)

  • Legislation will set targets for public bodies in relation to apprenticeships in England.
  • Protection of the term ‘apprenticeship’ to prevent misuse by providers in England.
  • Introducing Apprenticeship levy data-sharing powers between HMRC, the Secretary of State and Devolved
  • Establish the Institute for Apprenticeships and make provisions about its functions.


Traineeships:  Available for young people aged 16 to 24.  They give young people skills and vital experience needed to compete successfully for an apprenticeship or other sustainable employment.  At their core is a high quality work experience placement with an employer, work preparation training and English and maths for those who have not achieved a GCSE Grade C or equivalent. Traineeships are continuing to grow: over 10,000 were started in the first year (2013/14); 19,400 in 2014/15 and 12,400 in the first two quarters of 2015/16. Our initial evaluation of year 1 trainees showed that 50% progressed to apprenticeships or other employment with a further 17% progressing to further learning.

[1] London Economics (2011) – BIS Research Paper Number 53, Returns to Intermediate and Low Level Vocational Qualifications, September 2011’

[2] AAT and CEBR – Is a university degree the best route into employment?

[3]  Apprenticeship Evaluation: survey of learners 2015

[4] Apprenticeship Evaluation: survey of employers 2015


Skills Research


Local Reports:


Northern Devon Skills Research
This research presents the findings of a survey of 341 local businesses, which was commissioned by the Northern Devon Employment & Skills Board and produced by our academic partner, SERIO at Plymouth University.

  • Summary – 18 page summary SERIO Plymouth University – December 2013
  • Full Report – Download this 83 page report for a more in-depth look at the data and analysis. SERIO Plymouth University – December 2013
  • Presentation – Download the full PowerPoint presentation from the Breakfast meeting.

Funded by Leader 4 this research will inform the ESB Skills Action Plan, identifying skills gaps, hard to fill vacancies, how employers feel about young people entering the world of work, and giving an insight into the local business experience of training provision.

Apprenticeships in North Devon & Torridge – A fifteen page report that analyses the National Apprenticeships Service starts data from 2010/11 to 2012/13  – February 2014

Northern Devon Employment & Skills Analysis – A forty-seven page report describing the economic, employment and skills context of the local area.
Marchmont Observatory, University of Exeter – June 2013


National Reports:

Employer Skills Survey of 91,000 UK employers. Choose from a 9 page Executive Summary or the full report
Updated May 2015 – UKCES

Careers for the future

UKCES – December 2014

Engineering & Technology -Skills & Demand in Industry
The Institution of Engineering & Technology – 2014

Engineering & Technology – Skills & Demand in Industry Challenges
‘The Missing Million’ – Article from the Independent
Illuminating the employment challenges of the over 50’s – 2014

Gateway to Growth – Education and Skills Survey. Explores STEM skills, apprenticeships and careers advice
CBI/Pearson – 2014 – 75 pages

Taking Action: achieving a culture change in careers provision
National Careers Council – September 2014 – 40 pages

Enterprise for All – The relevance of enterprise education. Includes case studies, plus proposals for a new Enterprise Passport and a network of Enterprise Advisors
Lord Young – Department for Business Innovation & Skills – June 2014 – 52 pages

Careers Guidance and Inspiration for Young People in Schools
Department for Education – April 2014 – 18 pages

Top 10 Occupations of the Future
Institute for Public Policy Research – June 2014

The Importance of Vocational Education
Institute for Public Policy Research – Winning the Global Race – June 2014

Careers Guidance Action Plan
Government response to the Ofsted report below. Department for Education (DFE), Department for Business Innovation & Skills (BIS) – September 2013

Going in the Right Direction?
Ofsted report on Careers guidance in schools following inspector visits to 60 secondary schools and academies – September 2013

An Aspirational Nation – Creating a Culture Change in Careers Provision – 64 page report. Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) – June 2013

Employers are from Mars, young people are from Venus – addressing the young people/jobs mismatch – CIPD April 2013

Investing in Young People – Why Your Business Can’t Afford to Miss Out. This report lays out the key evidence and benefits of investing in tomorrow’s workforce now. CIPD – September 2012

The Youth Employment Challenge – There is a need to dispel myths about work-readiness and aspirations to work among young people. This report highlights employers views and looks at re-inventing routes into work. UKCES July 2012

Ways into Work – Views of children & young people. Find out what 3000 young people really think about maths, career guidance, and the importance of employer involvement. City & Guilds – May 2012

Lost in Transition – The Changing Labour Market and young people not in employment, education or training. The Work Foundation – published May 2012

Businesses & Schools: Building the world of work together – A report highlighting the perceptions and experiences of businesses when working with schools to build the world of work into education. UKCES – April 2012

Work ready – Get fit for the job – short and snappy A4 graphic interpretation of these hard-hitting statistics.

15 page report from learndirect – April 2012

Creating Successful Local Economies – The LEP Network – Review of Local Enterprise Partnership area economies in 2013


Press & Media Articles:

Top eight most in-demand tech skills
With the need for tech skills growing faster than ever in the UK, the Tech Partnership looks at the top tech skills businesses are looking for
June 2015

UK nations have biggest skills gaps, says OECD
UK nations have the biggest skills gaps between young people who are not in education, employment or training and those in work
May 2015

Calls for more joined-up approach to preparing young people for careers
Western Morning News – June 2014

Vocational training key to jobs for young people in Devon and Cornwall
Western Morning News – June 2014

Record Proportion of People in Employment are Homeworkers
Office for National Statistics – June 2014

The Hard Truth about Soft Skills – This is a short Guardian article on employability skills.

Bridging the learning culture divide between Higher Education, Schools and Employers

Science Graduates ‘lack skills needed by businesses’

Employability: understand it to teach it

Skills Minister unveils new investment in skills in key industries

Three short articles from The Guardian – May 2013:

Sixth Formers miss out on Careers Advice

Students Seek Out Apprenticeships

Why School Leavers Skip University and Head for the Workplace


Career Progression Maps:

For employers – to help you to identify and articulate the skills needs, gaps and shortages in your workforce

  • For learners & career advisors – to help you understanding what skills employers will be looking for when recruiting and developing their staff
  • For training providers – to help you develop training which meets the needs of local employers
  • Career Progression Maps cover an extensive range of sectors from Health & Social Care to Hospitality, Manufacturing to Management, Customer Service to Construction. Find an example here: