Exploring Trends in Apprenticeship Training Around the Introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy: Emerging Evidence Using a Matched Apprentice-Employer Dataset – January 2020

Practice area: Economics of Education | Education and Labour Markets
Client: Department for Education
Published: January, 2020
Keywords: impact assessment quantitative analysis

As part of the Centre for Vocational Education Research, London Economics and the University of Sheffield undertook an in-depth analysis of the available evidence on the composition and distribution of apprenticeship training undertaken in England in recent years (before and after the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy). To achieve this, we developed a matched apprentice-employer level dataset. This dataset contains information from the ILR (Individualised Learner Record) matched to the IDBR (the Office for National Statistics’ Inter-Departmental Business Register), which provides an almost ‘live register’ of publicly funded training in England.


Key findings:

  • Overall the number of apprenticeship starts has fallen significantly since the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy, from around 0.5 million starts per year before the Levy was introduced to around 0.4 million per year today. There are now around 12 apprenticeship starts per 1,000 employees in SMEs and 15 starts per 1,000 employees in the largest enterprises with 250+ employees. Approximately half of all apprenticeship starts are now Levy funded
  • There has been an acceleration in the switch from Intermediate to Advanced and Higher-level apprenticeships, with almost 20% now at Higher level compared with only 4% in 2014/15. These trends are matched by a corresponding declining share at Intermediate level, from 60% in 2014/15 to only 37% in 2018/19.
  • Overall, the evidence presented does not suggest that there was a direct association between the introduction of the Levy and the decline in the number of apprenticeship starts, as large enterprises (which are more likely to be paying the Levy) experienced a smaller reduction in the number of starts compared to smaller enterprises (less likely to be paying the Levy). For smaller enterprises which are less likely to be directly impacted by the Levy, the strong decline in starts may be linked to a combination of adapting to the new funding system, the constraints on the pool of funding actually available for apprenticeship training, and the ongoing switch from Apprenticeship Frameworks to Apprenticeship Standards which have higher quality requirements

The full report is available here