The number of apprenticeship starts in June has risen by 57 per cent on the same month a year ago.
In June 2018, the number of starts registered with the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) was 22,300, compared with 14,200 in June 2017.
But the figures are down on June 2016's total of 37,000 starts, a corresponding drop of 40 per cent.
The June 2018 figures follow another year-on-year rise in the previous month, when 24,100 starts were recorded – up 87 per cent on the 12,900 logged in May 2017.
However, following the introduction of the apprenticeship levy in April last year, the number of apprenticeship starts plummeted both in May and June 2017.
Indeed, the figures released by the ESFA today show how big the drop in the number of apprenticeship starts was in the first academic year following the introduction of the apprenticeship levy.
To date, 341,700 starts were reported between August 2017 and June 2018 for the 2017-18 academic year, which is down 28 per cent on the 2016-17 total of 472,500 starts. In 2015-16, there were 458,500 starts.
'Academic routes are no longer the only option'
Skills minister Anne Milton said apprenticeships are a great way to build the skills that businesses need.
She added: “Employers right across the country are taking up the fantastic opportunity apprentices bring to their business. Traditional academic routes are no longer the only option available, with our new high-quality apprenticeship standards giving people a route to fulfilling jobs and a successful career.
“There are a wide variety of exciting apprenticeships on offer from marine engineering to finance to nursing, fashion and law.
“I have seen for myself how an apprenticeship can alter the course of someone’s life and everyone, whatever their background and whatever their academic achievement, should consider the option of taking up this opportunity.”
'Much lower than before'
Stephen Evans, Learning and Work Institute chief executive, said the figures show a new "steady state" of apprenticeship starts of around 20-30,000 per month.
He added: "This is much lower than before the introduction of the levy and other reforms and makes the government’s '3 million target' look increasingly out of sight.
"In any case, at Learning and Work Institute we argue the real focus should be on boosting quality and widening access and tackling the barriers to participation that too many groups of people face who would like to take up an apprenticeship. Our research shows much greater action is needed to tackle these inequalities, including a new apprentice premium and benchmarking apprenticeship standards against the best in the world."