Investigating the impact of the Apprenticeship Levy on training outcomes

Practice area: Education and Labour Markets
Client: Association of Colleges
Published: 9 April, 2024
Keywords: further education 2024 apprenticeship levy firm-level training Public Policy

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The Apprenticeship Levy came into effect in April 2017 and it is set at a rate of 0.5% of an employer’s pay bill for employers with annual pay bill in excess of £3 million. Employers paying the Levy in England can spend the funds on Apprenticeship training within 24 months and are also able to transfer a share of their annual funds to other employers.

We collected and reviewed available evidence on Apprenticeship starts since 2014/15 and the key findings show that:


  • The total number of starts declined by 33% between 2014/15 and 2022/23 (a loss of 160,000 starts);
  • Over time there has been a significant shift away from lower-level apprenticeships and towards higher level apprenticeships (at level 4 and above, including degree apprenticeships);
  • This decline disproportionately impacted younger people and those from disadvantaged backgrounds;
  • This decline has been particularly strong for regions in the North of England with traditionally high levels of apprenticeship intensity and SMEs.

It is now time to discuss how the system may be reformed to ensure that training opportunities are available for a wider range of employers and individuals.

The report is available here and press release can be found here.