There has been some cautious cause for optimism for students looking to take an apprenticeship in the near future. Recent data shows that the amount of places provided and the overall picture has started to improve.
With many big companies finances being severely hit by the pandemic, particularly those in the retail and hospitality sector there were great fears that the apprenticeship places would be badly impacted. Although, apprenticeships are still only just recovering there has at least been the welcome news that this has improved rather than worsened.
Figures recently by the Department for Education show that there were 91,100 starts recorded from August to October 2020, compared to 125,800 reported for the same period pre-Covid-19 in 2019/20 – a 28 per cent fall. However, this is an improvement on the previous quarter of the pandemic, when 43,600 starts were achieved between May and July 2020, compared to 75,500 starts for the same period in 2019 – a 42 per cent fall. These figures hopefully show that apprenticeship starts are recovering and that more places will start to become available for young people.
As seems to be an unfortunate pattern those aged under 19 were the worst affected group, with starts for this age group dropping 42 per cent from 40,700 last year to 23,800.
The recently released government data provides an update for take-up of the chancellor’s apprenticeship incentive scheme, which provides employers with the incentive of s bonus of up to £2,000 to take on a new apprentice, between 1 August 2020 and 31 March 2021.
On the 8th of January 2021, a total of 18,670 starts were planned under the scheme. The Treasury had budgeted for up to 100,000 incentive payments for new apprentice hires, showing its commitment to reigniting apprenticeship schemes. However, many employers have said the scheme isn’t far reaching enough and needs greater funding to really start to make a difference. Many employers have also stressed that the scheme should continue for a longer period of time.
On January 8th 2021 the government received almost 19,000 applications from employers for the offer of a cash boost of up to £2000 to hire new apprentices, showing the value they know apprenticeships can bring to their business.
The pandemic is continuing to have a negative impact on businesses throughout the UK, but these latest stats at least provide some evidence that the situation will improve over the coming months.