Apprenticeship numbers drop in over 30 constituencies, new figures reveal

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The number of apprenticeship starts in more than 30 constituencies across England has fallen year-on-year, according to new figures.

While the overall number of apprenticeship starts in England rose by 14 per cent to 499,900 in 2014-15, new research published by the House of Commons Library reveals that in 34 constituencies, there was a fall in the number of people embarking on an apprenticeship compared to the previous year. In 17 more Parliamentary constituencies, there was no change in the number of starts. The figures raise questions about the chances of the government reaching its target of creating 3 million apprenticeships during the current Parliament.

The South-East region recorded the biggest fall in apprenticeship starts (980), with 440 in justice secretary Michael Gove’s constituency of Surrey Heath alone – more than in any other part of the country. The constituency which saw the biggest rise was in Richmond in North Yorkshire with 2,160 new starts; in total, there were almost 10,000 more apprenticeship starts in Yorkshire and The Humber than in the previous 12 months.

A spokesman for the Association of Employers and Learning Providers (AELP) welcomed the overall increase in starts, but said that factors such as industrial closures may explain the discrepencies between different parts of the country. "Schools or sixth-forms are persuading more young people to stay on until 18, instead of going down a work-based learning route like an apprenticeship," he said. "But at the end of the day, the fact that the numbers are moving in the right direction bodes well as far as making sure that there are enough skilled young people."

A spokesman from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills said: “More people across the country are doing an apprenticeship than ever before. We are committed to reaching 3 million high quality apprenticeship starts in England by 2020 so that we have the modern highly skilled workforce businesses need now and in the future."

The drop in apprenticeship starts from 2013-14 to 2014-15:

  • 440 – Surrey Heath

  • 200 – Wokingham

  • 70 – Blackburn

  • 60 – East Devon

  • 50 – Barnsley Central, Clacton, Aylesbury, Brighton Kempton, East Surrey, Maidenhead

  • 40 – Hazel Grove, North Herefordshire, Chesham and Amersham, Truro

  • 30 – Wansbeck, Pendle, Lewisham Deptford, Poplar and Limehouse, North East Hampshire, North West Hampshire

  • 20 – Berwick-upon-Tweed, Carlisle, South Northamptonshire, South Cambridgeshire, Bristol West

  • 10 – Halton, Tatton, Beckenham, Tooting, Brighton Pavilion, Hove, Romsey and Southampton North, Runneymede and Weybridge, Cotswolds

For the full list of 2014-15 apprenticeship starts in each contituency, click here.

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