The apprenticeship levy was introduced on May 1st 2017, with the intention of boosting employer engagement with the apprenticeship system. However, the first results, reported in October, were not encouraging. During May, June and July total apprenticeships starts fell by a terrifying 61%. Exact reasons for this fall are unclear at the moment, but they may be due to employer confusion regarding the new levy system.
However, better news has just arrived in the form of the latest statistics released by the Department for Education.
These latest figures, which are based on the uptake of apprenticeships made via the Apprenticeship Service (a new service aimed at helping employers to use and manage their apprenticeship levy payment), show that higher level and degree apprenticeships rose by a truly colossal 424% in September!
Higher level apprenticeships now represent one fifth of all apprenticeships, as opposed to one tenth before May 2017. This is very encouraging indeed.
Degree apprenticeships in particular have benefited. They were launched in September 2015, but funding only began in May.
This leads to the conclusion that degree level apprenticeship employers had been expecting to use the levy to fund their new apprenticeship programmes, resulting in this sudden surge – whereas lower level apprenticeship employers clearly had no such expectation, and indeed may have been confused by the new levy service.
Has explanatory publicity been targeted at higher level apprenticeships, or have degree level employers carried out their own research regarding funding options? At the moment this is unclear.
Whilst the 61% fall in apprenticeships is very worrying, and very disappointing, the huge rise in higher level and degree apprenticeships is very exciting. These new degree level apprenticeships open up a new world of opportunity for many, and hopefully we will see this trend develop and grow further.
Take a look at our blog describing the Apprenticeship Levy