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Posted on 29/03/2018 in Apprenticeship Sector News Stories

Apprenticeship and levy statistics: March 2018: Apprenticeships Starts are down again?

Apprenticeship and levy statistics: March 2018: Apprenticeships Starts are down again?

Statistics covering latest monthly apprenticeship starts, apprenticeship service registrations and commitments, and apprenticeship levy information.

Apprenticeship starts were down 25 per cent in December on the same period in 2016, according to provisional statistics published by the Department for Education this morning.

There were 16,700 starts that month in 2017, down from 21.600 in 2016.

The apprenticeship funding system Changes in the way apprenticeship funding works were introduced and implemented from May 2017. Guidance about these changes and paying the apprenticeship levy can be found at this link: work/apprenticeship-levy-how-it-will-work.A key aspect of these changes was the introduction of the apprenticeship service, an online service to allow employers to choose and pay for apprenticeship training more easily. Levy-payers are able to register on the apprenticeship service so that they can: receive levy funds to spend on apprenticeships manage their apprentices pay their training provider

Apprenticeship data

his publication is produced in order to provide transparency with regards to this new system, its usage, and the apprenticeship programme as whole. This publication will continue to evolve over time as more data are collected and their relationships to other further education measures becomes more established.

Caution should be taken interpreting what apprenticeship service data may mean for the overall apprenticeship programme given this is a new system, intended to grow overcoming years. It has the potential to be affected by other factors, for example, users typically take time to adjust to recording data on a new system.

Monthly Starts

This publication includes headline monthly apprenticeship starts data, recorded on the Individualised Learner Record. Historical data, for comparison, were published alongside the November 2017 Further Education and Skills SFR. This provided a 36-month back series available at the following link:

This release contains apprenticeship starts reported to date for the first five months of the 2017/18 academic year (August 2017 to December 2017) and is based on information returned to the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) in February 2017. These are the first published (reported) data for these five months, providing an early view of performance, and are released for transparency purposes only.

Since providers report some of their data for this period later in the year, the data are subject to change (in either direction and so these figures are referred to as ‘reported so far’ or ‘reported to date’ to reflect this. The last returns of the academic year are submitted in October 2018 and the finalised figures published in November 2018.

It is not possible to determine how complete or incomplete the information returned so far is as the proportion of the actual apprenticeship starts returned each month varies greatly from year to year and from provider to provider. In 2016/17, the first reported monthly starts were as much as 18% below the final end-of-year figure and took up to 3 months to reach 95% of the finalised figure. This is particularly the case as provider reporting behaviour may change year to year; in addition, provider reporting behaviour may have particularly been affected since the introduction of the apprenticeship levy in April 2017. As a result, caution should be taken when using and interpreting these data,especially when comparing data reported so far in 2017/18 to the equivalent reporting period in 2016/17, as they will be subject to change. Comparisons that are more accurate can be made once finalised data are published in November 2018.


Apprenticeship service accounts:

In order for an apprenticeship service account to be created and registered, the usermust have completed three necessary steps:

1. Registration (creating a user login)

2. Adding an organisation (legal entity)

3. Adding a valid PAYE scheme

Completing these three steps creates a unique identifier for the registered apprenticeship service account (ASA), which is our principle measure of the number of accounts. The apprenticeship service went live for registrations from 23 January 2017. All employers can use the apprenticeship service to search for apprenticeships and a training provider.

Apprenticeship service account (ASA) registrations and commitmentsAs at 31 January 2018, there have been a total of 12,900 ASAs registered. Please note that the date of registration is the date the apprenticeship service account first registered their PAYE account number and a legal entity in the digital apprenticeship service system.As at 31 January 2018, there have been a total of 119,500 commitments entered into the apprenticeship service. Of these, 110,100 were fully agreed.

Please note, a commitment may be recorded on the apprenticeship system after the date has passed, and therefore all data should be treated as provisional. Details of the age of1 Figures are calculated from unrounded data. The data is fully captured when providers confirm details in the individualised learner record (ILR) collection. In the interests of transparency, what is known at  this point of reporting has been included where possible.


Main text: SFR24/2018

PDF, 446KB, 11 pages

Main tables: SFR24/2018

MS Excel Spreadsheet, 334KB

Main tables: SFR24/2018

ODS, 240KB

This file is in an OpenDocument format

Pre-release access list: SFR24/2018



This release provides headline experimental statistics on the use of the apprenticeship service. These include apprenticeship service account registrations (ASAs) and numbers of commitments (reported to January 2018), where an apprentice who is expected to go on to start has been recorded in the system.

Additionally, monthly apprenticeship starts information for the first five months of the 2017 to 2018 academic year are also presented (reported to December 2017).

For more further education (FE) statistics, please refer to the FE and skills statistical first release (SFR), and the FE data library.

We may adjust the content and timing of these statistics, depending on user feedback and data reporting.

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