Press release

Thousands of apprentices set to transform the public sector

More people to get the chance to kick-start their career ‎through a public sector apprenticeship.

Nieve-Marie Oakman, DfE marketing apprentice

Skills Minister Robert Halfon has today (20 January 2017) announced that the Department for Education (DfE) is setting the public sector a target of recruiting 200,000 more apprentices by 2020.

This reform will create thousands of quality opportunities in the public sector, giving more people the chance to launch or develop their career, whether they are saving lives with the NHS, working in our vital local government services or working in a police force protecting the public.

Today’s announcement builds on the government’s commitment to deliver 3 million apprenticeships by 2020, by requiring at least 2.3% of the workforce in public bodies in England to be apprentices.

This new duty, which was brought in as part of the 2016 Enterprise Act, will apply to public sector bodies with 250 or more employees and is set to be implemented from 1 April 2017.

Skills Minister Robert Halfon said:

We are committed to breaking down barriers and creating a ladder of opportunity for people everywhere. For our public sector to be the very best in the world, we need talented and ambitious people of all ages and from every background.

Businesses across the country have well and truly got behind apprenticeships. Now it is time to ensure the public sector reaps the benefits of apprenticeships and young people get the opportunities they deserve.

The new target is being championed by the Civil Service, which has pledged an unprecedented increase in apprentices, to achieve 30,000 apprenticeship starts in England by 2020, with an expectation to see similar levels of growth in the UK Home Civil Service, outside of England.

Setting these expectations for larger employers in the public sector is essential to give people the skills they need to succeed and enable public sector employers to deliver the skilled workforce for the future.

Notes to editors

  1. Apprenticeships policy is a devolved matter and the duty therefore applies to England only. Where public bodies operate across the UK (or internationally), the target will be set as a certain proportion of their England-based workforce, based on the primary work location of each employee.
  2. Read the response to the public sector consultation ‘Public sector apprenticeship targets’.

DfE marketing apprentice case study

Nieve-Marie Oakman, DfE marketing apprentice

Nieve-Marie Oakman, 18-year-old marketing apprentice for the Department for Education, said:

My family and friends were all supportive of my choice to do any apprenticeship. My parents knew despite applying for university I was unsure if that was the route I wanted to take to gain my career in marketing. They were, however, slightly wary my apprenticeship wouldn’t offer the career development a degree would but were reassured when shown the great support the Department for Education offer me.

DfE enquiries

Published 20 January 2017