Fewer apprenticeship places in Northumberland
The number of apprenticeships started in Northumberland has dropped to the lowest level since a Government shake-up of the system, new figures show.
Department for Education data show 2,240 apprenticeships were started in the area in 2019-20.
This is 17% down on the 2,690 the previous year, and a 39% fall from the 3,700 in 2016-17, when the apprenticeship levy - a tax larger businesses pay towards a national fund for the training – came into effect.
Nationally, 322,500 apprenticeships started last year – a drop of 18% on the 393,400 in 2018-19, and more than a third from the 494,900 in 2016-17.
The DfE cautioned that the latest figures were impacted by the coronavirus pandemic but said, in the academic year up to March last year, apprenticeships dropped by seven per cent on the previous year.
Critics say the apprenticeship levy has caused confusion for employers.
Peter Cheese, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said: "On all key measures the apprenticeship levy has failed and is even acting to constrain firms’ investment in apprenticeships and skills more broadly.
"It appears to have achieved the opposite of its policy objectives."
The DfE said it will make improvements to the apprenticeship levy in response to employers' feedback.
Apprenticeships and skills minister, Gillian Keegan, said: "As we build back better, apprenticeships will play a vital role in helping businesses access the skills they need and make sure people of all ages and backgrounds have the chance to get ahead."