Responding to the latest apprenticeships data from the Department for Education


25 01 2024


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Responding to apprenticeships data released by the Department for Education on 25 January 2024, Dr Corin Egglestone, L&W's Deputy Head of Research, said:
Today’s apprenticeship data show a small increase in starts and higher participation among some underrepresented groups, but indicate persistent inequalities by socioeconomic background. Figures for the first quarter of this academic year show that the recovery in apprenticeship starts has plateaued. Although the numbers starting an apprenticeship are up by 7 per cent compared to this time last year, this only brings us back to 21/22 levels. A much greater increase is needed to return to the numbers seen pre-pandemic. Vacancies on the Find an Apprenticeship service are down by a third compared to this time last year. This suggests that more apprentices are being recruited through alternative routes, such as employers placing existing staff on programmes. Research just published by L&W and The St Martin’s Group highlights that apprentices hired from existing staff may be less likely to get off-the-job training. This challenge needs to be addressed to ensure positive experience and outcomes for apprentices. We are only able to compare figures for underrepresented groups against full-year data, but it’s great to see the proportion of starts for individuals from Asian, Black, mixed and other ethnic backgrounds continue to increase. So too has the proportion of apprentices with learning difficulties or disabilities. However, socioeconomic background remains an area of concern and is a major predictor of participation in apprenticeships. Individuals from the most deprived quintile are now the least likely to start an apprenticeship, while the gap in higher apprenticeship starts has also widened by 57 per cent since 22/23. Individuals from the most affluent quintile are now a third more likely to start a higher apprenticeship compared to those from the most deprived backgrounds. We need more concerted effort by government, employers and providers to ensure apprenticeships meet their potential to support social mobility.


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