Nearly 90% of public sector bodies didn’t meet apprenticeship target

Janet Downs's picture


89% of public sector bodies which submitted data to the Department for Education did not meet the public sector apprenticeship target introduced in 2017, a DfE report has shown.  This required public sector bodies with 250 or more staff in England to have a target of employing an average of at least 2.3% of their staff as new apprenticeship starts up to 31 March 2021.

The report’s authors pointed out their analysis was based only on the 676 responses received.  As there were a possible 820 employers thought to ‘be in scope of the target’, this meant the analysis couldn’t be considered ‘exhaustive’ and should be regarded as ‘indicative’.  Nor could it be considered to present a representative picture of all public sector employers.   Authors also said hitting the target wasn’t necessarily the ‘main measure’ of judging the success or quality of actions taken.

Nevertheless, the report represents an indication of what is happening.   Its findings include:

·         59% of public sector bodies had increased their number of apprentices compared with the previous year.

·         Most of the public sector bodies had put in place ‘a range of actions and activities’ to develop apprenticeship programmes.

·         These actions appear to represent ‘strong grounds’ for apprenticeship growth from now until 2021.

·         Apprenticeships in most bodies include a mix of internal continuing professional development and new vacancies.

·         Some bodies, such as Police, Fire Authorities and the NHS, needed to meet legal Standards unrelated to apprenticeships.  Their ability to meet apprenticeship targets was subject to these Standards.

·         Many bodies wanted ‘increased flexibilities’ not just to help them meet targets but to deliver high-quality apprenticeships.

The last point is significant.  There have been instances when targets have been met by employing unacceptable strategies not just in apprenticeships but in the NHS and in education.

National Apprenticeship Week begins on 4 March.   It will coincide with National Careers Week and International Women’s Day.  Skills minister Anne Milton told TES ‘apprentices and employers [were] blazing a trail’ nationally.

To coincide with National Apprenticeship Week,  FE Week says the National Audit Office will publish a report on government oversight of apprenticeships.  It is expected to be ‘damning’.


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