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

Starts up to quarter 3 2019/20

In the first three quarters of the 2019/20 academic year (August to April), there were 275,900 apprenticeship starts. This was a drop of 13% from the same period in 2018/19, with around 43,000 fewer starts. 

The number of apprentices under the age of 19 fell by the most over this period.

Apprenticeship starts in 2018/19

In 2018/19, there were 742,400 people participating in an apprenticeship in England, with 393,400 apprenticeship starts and 185,100 apprenticeship achievements.

The number of starts fell in 2017/18 following the introduction of a new apprenticeship funding system in May 2017. The number of starts has increased from 2017/18 to 2018/19, but is still below the number before the new funding system was introduced. Starts at intermediate level and by apprentices aged 25 and over were particularly affected.

72,400 fewer people were participating in an apprenticeship in 2018/19 than in 2017/18.

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

Starts by apprentice characteristics

The age profile of people starting apprenticeships changed between 2017/18 and 2018/19, with a higher proportion of starts from apprentices over the age of 24.

46% of the apprenticeships started in 2018/19 were by people aged 25. The age group with the largest increase was by those aged between 35 and 44, with 21% more starts than in 2017/18.

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 women (50.1%). In 2017/18, there were slightly more starts by men (51%).

Starts by apprenticeship characteristic

Apprenticeship starts were more likely to be at a higher level in 2018/19.

44% of apprenticeships started in 2018/19 were at advanced level, with 19% started at higher level. In 2017/18, 44% of apprenticeship starts were at advanced level and 13% were at higher level.

The number of starts at intermediate level in 2018/19 have fallen heavily. 36% of apprenticeship starts were at intermediate level in 2018/19. This is down from 63% in 2011/12.

There were 22,500 level 6 and 7 starts in 2018/19. In 2017/18 there were only 11,000 starts at these levels.

The number of starts on apprenticeship standards increased by over 84,000 between 2017/18 and 2018/19, while the number of framework starts fell by almost 67,000. 63% of apprenticeship starts were on standards in 2018/19, up from 44% in 2017/18.

83% 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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