Apprenticeships in Leeds City Region down by a quarter as training costs start to bite, report warns

The number of people taking up apprenticeships in Leeds has decreased by a quarter in just one year, a report has claimed.

Friday, 22nd February 2019, 5:04 pm
Updated Friday, 22nd February 2019, 5:22 pm
Hundreds queue outside the Leeds Apprenticeships Recruitment Fair in March 2018.

A paper from West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) officers, claimed there were 22,250 apprenticeship starts in the Leeds City Region during the 2017/18 academic year – a fall of 7,970 from the previous year.

It added that the decline could be down to new rules on apprenticeships which have increased training costs for smaller employers.

And, while early figures for 2018/19 suggest a slight improvement in uptake, apprenticeships were still unpopular among females and ethnic minority communities.

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Hundreds queue outside the Leeds Apprenticeships Recruitment Fair in March 2018.

The numbers reflect a greater decline than the England average rate of 24 per cent, and follows a decline of three per cent in 2016/17 and growth of eight per cent in 2015/16.

A report from WYCA states: “This decline may be linked to the transitional effects of the introduction of the apprenticeship reforms during the latter part of the 2016/17 academic year, as larger employers came under the new levy arrangements while smaller employers were affected by the introduction of co-investment arrangements, which place a greater onus on them to meet the training costs of apprentices they recruit.”

Take-up of apprenticeships was also segregated by gender and subject. It stated 85 per cent of starts on health, public services and care apprenticeships were for females but the proportion for construction, planning and the built environment was only three per cent.

National research also shows that male-dominated apprenticeships such as construction and engineering offer better pay and prospects than those in which women are concentrated.

Only 10 per cent of apprenticeship starts among under-25s in the city region related to ethnic minority individuals, with the report adding this was much lower than the 20 per cent of the working age population of the City Region in this age group who are from an ethnic minority.

The report is set to be discussed at WYCA’s employment and skills panel on Thursday, February 26.