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Apprenticeship starts drop by 61% after levy introduced

12 October 2017

The number of people starting apprenticeships between May and July fell by 61% compared to the previous year, according to figures released by the Department for Education today.

The figures show a considerable decline in the number of apprenticeship starts since the government's apprenticeship levy was introduced. There were just 43,600 starts between May and July 2017, down from 113,000 over the same period in 2016.

Under the new system, levy-paying employers have two years to spend their apprenticeship levy funds, but UCU said that was little comfort for people failing to get an apprenticeship now.

The union said that the figures represented a real risk to social mobility and said the government should expand the levy to cover non-apprenticeship training.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: 'Ministers must be concerned by this drop, which seriously undermines efforts to improve social mobility. With two years to spend the levy cash, there may be some employers biding their time but that does nothing for those people who want, and need, access to training now.

'The government must do more to ensure that anyone who wants an apprenticeship can get one, but quality must remain paramount and no attempt should be made to row back on the commitment to off-the-job training which is central to good apprenticeships.

'The government should also recognise that apprenticeships are not the only valid route for people to gain skills in the workplace, and should make levy funding available for other types of training.'