A third of apprentices fail to cross the finish line

Almost one third of people who take on apprenticeships don’t finish them, according to an analysis of official figures.

The proportion of apprenticeships that were completed – the “success rate” – was just 68.9 per cent in 2013-14, and had fallen steadily in the previous three years. In 2010-11, more than three quarters (76.4 per cent) of apprentices finished their course.


Hit for government plans

The figures are a stark revelation amid government plans for three million new apprenticeship starts by 2020.

If the decline in course completion continues, almost one million students will not complete their apprenticeship – a blow for Whitehall’s strategy to boost training and create a more skilled workforce.


Over-19s least successful

Apprenticeships among people aged 19 and over saw the largest decline, the analysis by the Financial Times found. The post-19 success rate fell 4.4 per cent in the year to 2013-14 to 68.2 per cent.

Neil Carberry, director for employment and skills at the CBI business lobby group, told the FT that the statistics were “a timely reminder that while the government targets three million starts, it’s completions that matter to companies and participants”.

An anonymous official added that the indicator of how successful the apprenticeships system is should be how many people complete courses, not how many start them.

The Department for Business Innovation and Skills suggested that falling success rates could be due to rising standards. A spokesman said: “Our reforms mean apprenticeships are now more rigorously tested, last longer and are more responsive to the skills needs of industry.”