play_circle_filled In progress

Education Education

Create 3 million apprenticeships for young people by 2020

Last updated: 09:50am 12 January 2019

We will deliver our commitment to create 3 million apprenticeships for young people by 2020…

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.53

Our verdict

This target was first set back in 2015 as part of the “English Apprenticeships: Our 2020 vision” plan.

In January 2017, the previous government said it was on track to reach its target of three million apprenticeship starts by 2020. However, since the introduction of the “apprenticeship levy” in April 2017 – a tax on large employers to help fund people training at work – the number of apprenticeship starts has declined.

Figures released by the Department for Education in May 2018 show that between August 2017 and February 2018 there were 232,700 starts, compared with 309,000 for the same period twelve months earlier, which is a fall of roughly 25%. The Department for Education (DfE)said in their May 2018 apprenticeship statistics publication that the changes to the way apprenticeships were funded through the levy were “likely to have impacted on starts”, but that levy payers were planning to increase their number of apprentices in future.

Anne Milton, Minister of State for Skills and Apprenticeships, said in February 2018 that she hoped to see “some real numbers” by September 2018. However, by December 2018, DfE figures showed:

“375,800 apprenticeship starts reported for the 2017/18 academic year, compared with 494,900 in 2016/17 and 509,400 in 2015/16.”

For now, we’ve classified this manifesto pledge as ‘in progress’, as the government has not abandoned its 3 million target and is implementing changes, such as the apprenticeship levy, to try to reach it. We’ll have to wait and see if the target can be met by 2020. Follow this policy for the latest developments.

Further reading

There's always room for debate

We’re serious about providing clear, up-to-date, non-partisan information. We focus on being consistent and fair in how we reach our verdicts, and always explain our reasoning. But there is always room for debate. So if you see it differently, we’d love you to tell us why. Or even better, submit an edit.