The number of people starting an apprenticeship has fallen by almost 60 per cent.
According to new figures from the Department for Education (DfE), 48,000 people started an apprenticeship between May and July, compared with 117,000 in the same period last year - a drop of 59.3 per cent. The report from the DfE said while the the apprenticeship levy came into force on 6 April and in May, funding arrangements for apprenticeships changed to give employers greater control over funding for apprenticeship training, it may take time for organisations to adjust to the new funding system.
The government said it was therefore "too early to draw conclusions based on the number of apprenticeship starts recorded since May 2017". It added there were 21,100 levy supported starts recorded since the introduction of the apprenticeship levy, and ,ore than half of them were at intermediate level.
'A huge disappointment'
Verity Davidge, head of education and skills policy at the EEF manufacturers' group, said while the figures were "shocking", they are "frankly unsurprising". "We continue to hear stories from companies who have hit a brick wall in trying to get levy-supported apprenticeships off the ground," Ms Davidge said.
"Accessing the funding has proven complex and difficult to unlock in time and employers have struggled to get their heads round the complex rules and restrictions in accessing funds. As a result, some apprentices have been told that their apprenticeship has been put on hold for now which is clearly a huge disappointment for young people who had effectively been offered a job – only to have their hopes dashed."
She added: "The Budget was a missed opportunity for government to make the major changes needed now to ensure that industry can continue to deliver high-quality apprenticeships and ensure employers have the skills they need now and in the future."