Press release

Thousands more school leavers choosing apprenticeships

New statistics show thousands more 16- and 17-year-olds embarking on apprenticeships than last year.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

young person

New figures from local authorities reveal the number of school leavers embarking on apprenticeships has risen by more than 15% in just 1 year.

The data shows that apprenticeships, which now offer real jobs and training to develop the practical skills and experience that businesses want, are becoming increasingly popular with 16- and 17-year-olds.

The figures, collected from local authorities, reveal that in March this year compared to March 2013:

  • more than 15% more 16- and 17-year-olds are in apprenticeships - up from 41,738 last year to 49,228 this year
  • 27,832 more 16- and 17-year-olds are participating in education or training - up from 1,030,689 last year to 1,058,521 this year
  • 8 out of 9 regions in England reported higher rates of young people in education or training compared to last year

Apprenticeships have been reformed under this government so they offer a respected alternative to academic study. A key part of their reform has been to give employers the pen to design them - involving more than 400 businesses such as PwC, Microsoft, John Lewis, British Airways and BMW.

The National Audit Office estimates that for every pound invested in apprenticeships by the government, the economy gets £18 back. When wider benefits are included, the return on investment is even higher, at £28 for each pound of government investment.

The government is committed to ensuring all young people are given the opportunity to fulfil their potential. To help achieve this, local authorities are required to track their participation in education, employment and training. Today’s figures show local authorities are becoming more effective at this, with a drop of more than 9,000 16- and 17-year-olds whose activity is not known to local authorities since the previous year.

Skills and Enterprise Minister Matthew Hancock said:

There is no better engine of social mobility and success than a place in education or training. And today’s figures confirm that young people across England are increasingly seeing apprenticeships as a great way to fulfil their potential.

This confirms our reforms to give young people a clear path to work or further education are working.

Further data published last month shows the lowest level of 16- to 18-year-olds NEET since records began - showing our long term economic plan is delivering for young people.

The government has a package of measures to help young people get the best possible start in life. This includes:

  • introducing a rigorous new curriculum and world-class qualifications, ensuring proper preparation for further and higher education, and work
  • ensuring that young people who have not achieved at least a C in GCSE English or maths must continue studying those subjects as part of their further education
  • removing low-quality vocational qualifications from league tables in favour of courses proven to deliver the skills employers demand
  • a new programme of traineeships to help those aged 16 to 23 (inclusive) to develop the skills and vital experience they need to secure apprenticeships and other sustainable jobs

Notes to editors:

  1. View the ‘Participation in education and training by local authority’ statistics.

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Published 4 July 2014