There will be no more Advanced Learning loans for apprentices over 24, after only 695 were made since their introduction in April last year. According to the Skills Funding Statement 2013-16:

It is clear that Loans are not the preferred funding route for employers or prospective Apprentices.

Apprenticeship starts
These loans affected apprentices aged 24 and over studying at Level 3 and above, and applied across England. Employers continued to contribute up to half of the training costs, but apprentices were expected to contribute the remainder through Advanced Learning loans made available by the Government. This was the first time apprentices were expected to contribute towards the costs of their learning. The system operated in a very similar way to the one for Higher Education, although apprentices studying at Level 2 or under the age of 24 were not required to take out a loan.

Apprenticeship start figures for the first quarter of the 2013/14 academic year show a large drop in over 25s undertaking apprenticeships at Level 3 and above, following the introduction of Advanced Learning loans.* Provisional figures show that between August and October 2013 only 2,800 people aged 25 and over started an Advanced or Higher Apprenticeship, 88% less than the same period a year earlier. This is the lowest number of Advanced or Higher Apprenticeship starts for over 25s since 2007/08.

Since the launch of Advanced Learning loans, 57,181 loans have been made but only 1.2% of these loans have been for apprenticeships. It appears the take up of loans amongst eligible apprentices was also low, with over four times as many people aged 25 and over starting an Advanced or Higher Apprenticeship as people who took out a loan for an apprenticeship.

Following low take up figures and with future apprenticeship reforms in England ahead, apprentices aged 24 and over will no longer need to take out an Advanced Learning loan and apprentices who have already taken out loans will not be required to repay them. Instead, Advanced and Higher level Apprenticeships for those aged 24 and over will now be eligible for funding from the Adult Skills Budget.

Author: James Mirza-Davies

* The statistics show starts for the 25 and over age group; this does not include 24-year-olds who were also eligible for Advanced Learning loans.