The Skills Finding Agency has released provisional data for apprenticeships starts during the 2015/16 academic year.
The data for Liverpool City Region gives us a mixed picture:
- Apprenticeship starts were down in the region over the last 5 year period. This is due in the main to the temporary introduction of Advanced Learning Loans for those aged 24+ who want to do an Apprenticeship at level 3 or above. 2013/14 figures for starts show a small rise when SFA funding was resumed for this market segment.
- The level of starts across all age groups for the last 12 months has increased in the City Region by just 1.17% as can be seen in the graph below
- Breaking down figures for the last 12 months by borough, we note that there is a decline in starts in Knowsley, Liverpool and Sefton. Most alarmingly the data shows us that in Knowsley the number of starts declined by 3.2%.
- Halton, St Helens and Wirral all saw increases in the numbers of starts over the last 12 months. Wirral top the list with an almost 6.5% increase.
The Government meanwhile continues to push its 3 million Apprenticeship starts target, as referred to during the Conservative Party Conference this week. It is clear from the figures above that some dramatic changes are needed if the City Region is to do its part in achieving this target.
Historically, the proportion of the general population who are of working age has been higher in Liverpool City Region than the national average. This means we have always ‘punched above our weight’ in terms of our contribution to national Apprenticeship start figures. I am concerned this may no longer be the case as other areas of the country catch up.
My other concern is that these figures reflect ‘all-age’ starts. When the statistics are published with age breakdowns, it is quite possible that the lion’s share of starts will be made up of the 19+ cohort.
Something to bear in mind as we continue to work together to drive up the numbers of young people and employers involved in Apprenticeships.
Apprenticeships Strategy Manager