Skills and training are devolved policy areas. This Briefing Paper covers apprenticeships in England. Sources of information on apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are included in the Commons Briefing Paper, Apprenticeships Policy in England.

Constituency and local authority data on apprenticeship starts are available in the Apprenticeship Statistics spreadsheet accompanying this Briefing Paper.

Starts up to quarter 2 of 2020/21

In the first two quarters of the 2020/21 academic year (August 2020 to January 2021), there were 161,900 apprenticeship starts. This was a drop of 18% from the same period in 2019/20, with around 36,700 fewer starts.

Apprenticeship starts in 2019/20

In 2019/20, there were 719,000 people participating in an apprenticeship in England, with 322,500 apprenticeship starts and 146,900 apprenticeship achievements.

The number of starts fell in 2019/20 due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic from March 2020. The pandemic and lockdown period saw a disproportionate negative impact on apprenticeship starts for those aged under 19, and those starting an intermediate level apprenticeships.

23,400 fewer people were participating in an apprenticeship in 2019/20 than in 2018/19.

Starts by apprentice characteristics

The age profile of people starting apprenticeships changed between 2018/19 and 2019/20, with a higher proportion of starts from apprentices over the age of 24.

47% of the apprenticeships started in 2019/20 were by people aged 25 and over. Starts fell for all ages and the age group with the largest fall was by those aged 17, with 26% less starts than in 2018/19.

The gender profile has also changed. The number of women and men starting apprenticeships were almost at the same level, with slightly more starts by men (51.2%). In 2018/19, there were slightly more starts by women (50.1%).

Starts by apprenticeship characteristic

Apprenticeship starts were more likely to be at a higher level in 2019/20.

44% of apprenticeships started in 2019/20 were at advanced level, with 26% started at higher level. In 2018/19, 44% of apprenticeship starts were at advanced level and 19% were at higher level.

The number of starts at intermediate level in 2019/20 have fallen heavily. 31% of apprenticeship starts were at intermediate level in 2019/20. This is down from 65% in 2013/14.

From 2018/19 to 2019/20 the number of standards apprenticeships and framework apprenticeships both fell. However, the number of starts on apprenticeship standards has increased by over 170,000 between 2017/18 and 2019/20, while the number of framework starts fell by over 130,000 for the same two-year period. 75% of apprenticeship starts were on standards in 2019/20, up from 63% in 2018/19.

81% of all starts were in four subject areas: Business, Administration and Law; Health, Public Services and Care; Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies and Retail & Commercial Enterprise

Policy Developments

In May 2017 the apprenticeship funding system was revised, and the apprenticeship levy was introduced. A summary of significant policy developments is provided in section 5 of this paper.


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