Apprenticeship numbers fall but opportunities remain

This week has brought more gloomy headlines about the Apprenticeship Levy, with official Department for Education numbers showing that 59% less people (48,000) began an apprenticeship between May and July this year than they did last year (117,000).

That is a big fall and will be a cause for concern, but does it mean that that the Levy has been a disaster for the cause of apprenticeships in this country?

From what we have seen, that’s just not the case. We started working with an employer last year who took on their first ever apprentice. That has gone so well that they are going to take on 132 apprentices in 2018 – all new hires.

This shows that firms are open to trying out apprenticeships with the right support to guide them through the process and if they find the right talent to meet their needs.

This is where schemes like our Working Knowledge Early Careers Academies can be so invaluable. It’s important to find organisations that can help you source the brightest young people in your area who are best-suited to your business.


Remember, you have 24 months to choose how to use your funds, so there is no need to rush into things. It can take time for a business to fully analyse its talent acquisition and recruitment strategies to factor in the option of apprenticeships rather than traditional hiring.

In the example we mentioned above, all of the new hires would otherwise have been made via a recruitment agency, so this is a seismic shift for them.

Our experiences have demonstrated that new staff hired through apprenticeship schemes are more productive more quickly than those brought in by agencies and will also stay with the company longer.

So our advice is to ignore the doom and gloom in the media and look at how you can make the most of the Levy, because there are plenty of companies out there who are doing just that.