The government has exceeded its target of supporting 20,000 higher apprenticeship starts over the past two years, figures released today reveal.
Official statistics show that more than 22,000 higher apprenticeship starts have been supported since the beginning of the 2013-14 academic year.
The target was announced by chancellor George Osborne in his 2013 autumn statement. There were 9,200 higher-level apprenticeship starts in the 2013-14 academic year, and provisional data shows that there were 13,200 starts in the first three quarters of 2014-15.
Skills minister Nick Boles said: “We listened to what employers told us they needed and have invested in apprenticeships to ensure their workforce have the quality skills needed to grow the business. These figures show we are on course to create a modern and competitive workforce that boosts the country’s productivity and prosperity.
“The employer-led demand for higher apprenticeships is yet another reminder of the great respect our apprentices command."
During the course of the last Parliament, the government created more than 2.3 million apprenticeship starts. It wants to create 3 million new apprenticeships by 2020.
Earlier this month it was announced that public bodies including schools, hospitals, prisons and police forces would be set targets to employ apprentices as part of the drive to boost numbers.
The figures also show growth in traineeships, with more than 15,000 started in the first three quarters of this academic year.
Earlier this week Mr Boles said he wanted to expand the programme, which offers 16- to 24-year-olds high-quality work experience and work preparation training as well as English and maths support.
Meanwhile a separate set of statistics, also released today, shows that the percentage of teenagers who are Neets (not in education, unemployment or training) has dropped to an all-time low.
At the end of 2014, the proportion of 16- to 18-year-old Neets fell by 0.4 percentage points to its lowest level since 1994 – down almost 10,000 in 12 months.
The proportion in education or work-based learning rose by one percentage point on the previous year, an increase of almost 9,000 to 1,590,000.
Quarterly statistics published last month showed that the number of 16- to 24 year-olds who were classed as Neet had fallen to a 10-year low.