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Apprenticeships are on the decline… but why?

The government states that the number of Apprenticeships starts between August 2017 – January 2018 have declined by 24%

The government has released a statement regarding the uptake of Apprenticeships. Between August 2017 – January 2018 there has been a declined by a massive 24% in comparison to the same time frame the previous year….

This (perhaps annoyingly for the government) has coincidently occurred when the much-debated Apprenticeship levy was brought in, but is this the reason?

The levy was introduced to improve the countries skills with the aim of increasing the number of apprenticeship uptakes to 3 million by 2020.  

Is it too complicated?

According to the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) many companies are finding the new apprenticeship system complex. For levy payers they claim it feels like a tax and is preventing them from spending training money in the way they want. Small to medium sized businesses are facing paying 10% of the cost of an apprenticeship and are unsure how and where to access quality training providers.

Is it due to the Many Changes?

Along with the levy there has also been other changes to apprenticeships, these include the new apprenticeships standards, the launch of the Institute of Apprenticeships and digital accounts to pay for apprenticeships.

Businesses need skills

The BCC also states that most sectors and regions of the UK are facing skills shortages and their research shows recruitment difficulties at a near record high. They think that the levy’s structure and implementation is an obstacle to future talent. They have called for a reform to the system followed by a period of stability to allow businesses certainty, so that they can invest and engage in long term training plans.

Although there has been a drop in the overall apprenticeship numbers, there has been an increase in the number of higher level apprenticeships, such as engineering and law and uptake of the new apprenticeship standards according to the Department of Education.

Support for SMEs

Although non-levy paying companies (this includes many SMEs) now must contribute towards apprenticeship training, there are other options available to support their staff development and skills agenda if apprenticeships are not right for them. Many Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) offer funded training in their areas through the Skills Support for Workforce program. This offers a range of skills training depending on the needs of the business and is available in Hertfordshire, Essex, Greater Cambridge, Greater Peterborough, West Norfolk and Northamptonshire as well as other areas. Check your local LEP for details or contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 01923 698449