Skills Minister Alex Burghart has told the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE) to help boost apprenticeship starts among young people, including by reviewing level 2 and 3 programmes to ensure they “meet the needs of career starters”.  Alex Burghart has also instructed the apprenticeship quango to address “issues” within its remit that are leading to the high drop-out rate, as well as to help improve achievement rates.

Burghart’s tasks appeared in new “strategic guidance” recently issued to the institute.  Apprenticeship starts among young people have been steadily decreasing since the government’s levy reforms in 2017.  In 2018/19, under 19s made up 24.8 per cent of all starts, this dropped to 23.6 per cent in 2019/20 and in 2020/21 it fell to 20.3 per cent.

In a letter to IfATE chief executive Jennifer Coupland, Burghart said: “The department is aiming to increase participation by young people in all levels of apprenticeships. I would like the institute to support the department with this, including in its work on mapping progression routes.”

Jennifer Coupland response states, in 2022-23 he wants the institute to review availability of level 2 and level 3 standards and consider whether the current offer meets the needs of career starters across all sectors.  The institute should also explore and make proposals on how some standards might be flagged as particularly suitable for career starters, so that young people, employers and providers are much clearer about their potential.

Burghart is also seeking the institute’s assistance in addressing the high drop-out rate in apprenticeships which is concerning ministers and boost the achievement rate.  Data published by the DfE in March showed that only 53 per cent of apprentices on the new-style standards stayed on their programme until their end-point assessment in 2020/21 meaning that 47 per cent dropped out.

Burghart said that by 2024-25 the institute is expected to have reached a position where it has addressed issues within the scope of its remit regarding occupational standards associated with high levels of withdrawals; and has successfully worked with the department and the Quality Alliance to identify and support the improvement of achievement rates across the range of levers collectively available.

George Swann FIS Skill and Training Lead says “The apprenticeship standards available to the finishes and interiors sector do not currently reflect what goes on in the workplace, they a due for review this year and to ensure the revised standards are fit for purpose it needs employers’ involvement.  We know how busy the sector is and are aware of the labour shortages, if the apprenticeship standards are not working it’s not helping the situation.  If you would like to get involved in the review of the apprenticeship standards for Interior Systems Installer with options for Dry Lining and Ceilings and Partitions and/or Plasterer with options for Fibrous or Solid plastering drop me a line and I’ll get your interest registered with IfATE.  Telephone 07553874838 or email