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Government on track to hit 3 million apprenticeships target

New Department for Education figures reveal 155,000 apprenticeships were started in the first quarter of 2016-17, which apprenticeships and skills minister Robert Halfon hails as a 'success'.

The government appears to be on track to hit its target of creating 3 million apprenticeships during the current Parliament, after new figures revealed that more than 155,000 apprenticeships starts were recorded between August and October 2016.

The data, published today by the Department for Education, shows there were 155,600 starts in the first quarter of 2016-17. In order to achieve the 3 million target, 150,000 apprenticeships would need to be started in each quarter.

In total, 780,000 apprenticeship starts have been recorded since May 2015. The provisional total for the three-month period, published today, is slightly up on the equivalent figure of 153,100 published a year ago. This total was later revised upwards to more than 165,000.

Ladder of Opportunity

Apprenticeships and skills minister Robert Halfon said: “Apprenticeships offer people a ladder of opportunity to get on in highly skilled jobs. With 780,000 apprenticeships started since May 2015, we are well on our way to turning this country into an apprenticeships nation.

I want to build on this success and keep increasing the prestige and quality of apprenticeships to ensure they are on par with traditional academic options.

Of the starts in the first quarter of 2016-17, almost 97 per cent were on the apprenticeship framework, with just 3 per cent on apprenticeship standards.

And 9,110 starts – just under 6 per cent – were at levels 4, 5 and 6, with the majority at level 2 (84,010) or level 3 (62,510).

Mark Dawe, chief executive of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers, said it was important to ensure that, following the introduction of the apprenticeship levy, "the incentives for employers are sufficient to make sure that more apprenticeship opportunities become available". "We’ve also got to make sure that the smaller non-levy-paying employers, many of whom have a long-standing commitment to apprenticeships, aren’t cut adrift from the programme as a result of the recent provider procurement exercise," he added.