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Question for Department for Education

UIN 7648, tabled on 30 October 2019

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the trends in the level of apprenticeship starts for people aged (a) 16, (b) 17 and (c) 18 years old.

Answered on

4 November 2019

Our reforms to apprenticeships have fundamentally changed what apprenticeships are and the long-term opportunities they provide for people of all ages and backgrounds.

We publish data on apprenticeship starts by demographic on a quarterly basis. The most recent data can be found at:

The table below shows an extract of apprenticeships starts data by the ages requested from the 2016/17 and 2017/18 academic years, as well as data for quarter 1 to 3 of the 2017/18 and 2018/19 academic years. Full data for the 2018/19 academic year will be published on 28 November at:




2017/18 Q1-Q3

2018/19 Q1-Q3
















All Ages





There have been 311,200 apprenticeship starts reported in the first 3 quarters of the 2018/19 academic year, a 7.1% rise compared to the same period in the 2017/18 academic year. In parallel, we continue to see a reduction in the number of level 2 starts during the first 3 quarters of the 2018/19 academic year, down 10% compared to the same point the previous year. We know that 16-18 year olds in particular are more likely to undertake a level 2 apprenticeship and therefore be affected by this reduction.

This change in level 2 starts has largely occurred where apprenticeships were struggling to meet the minimum quality standards required by our reforms. We are replacing old-style frameworks, which apprentices and employers told us were not providing the skills they needed, with new employer-designed standards. Apprenticeships are intended to take people to a point of full competence in their chosen occupation. It is therefore possible for a young person with limited experience to achieve a level 3 apprenticeship. In 2018/19 we have seen growth in level 3 Engineering starts in particular for 16 ,17 and 18 year olds. Overall, we continue to see strong take up of standards with 63% of starts so far in 2018/19 on high-quality standards, compared to 44% in 2017/18.

Levels of young people not in education, training or employment are at a record low and apprenticeships play an important role in getting young people into work. We will continue to monitor the impact of our apprenticeship reforms on 16-18 year olds.

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