Education secretary Justine Greening has told the House of Commons education select committee today that the government knew apprenticeship starts would drop dramatically after the levy was introduced in May. She was responding to concerns about the Q4 61% year on year reduction in Apprenticeship starts. She explained that ‘we knew that when employers finally took over responsibility for actually spending the money themselves, they may well take some time to look at how they wanted to invest that money in apprenticeships,” and that the DfE were “tracking that very closely” – and that “we broadly remain on track in relation to 3 million apprenticeships”. This misses the point that some of the 61% reduction was almost certainly due to the front loading of non-levy starts in Q3 but the underlying trends do appear to be downwards. Figures for Q1 of the 2017-18 year will give us more of a reliable picture. More on this is here.
In the meantime doubts have been cast on the methodology used by the government to model its starts calculations – see here.