Apprenticeships cause confusion in the headlines

26 May 2015
What was claimed

1 million people bid for 85,000 apprenticeship places last year.

Our verdict

The figures are incomplete and only cover part of the year. They also only show applications not applicants.

"The Tories have been urged to overhaul ­apprenticeships after it emerged a million people bid for 85,000 places last year", Mirror, 23rd May 2015

In Wednesday's Queen's Speech the government is expected to continue the Coalition's commitment to create three million apprenticeships over this Parliament. Questions have been raised by think tank IPPR as to how achievable this is through the current system. Findings from the think tank's research, funded by the Local Government Association, were released in part over the weekend before it is published in full next week.

Both figures referred to by the Mirror are incomplete, given to the paper by mistake by the Local Government Association. Newer figures exist so they're no longer correct. The figures also don't tell us how many people are applying for apprenticeships, only how many applications there have been. People can take on more than one apprenticeship at a time, and may apply for more than one apprenticeship at a time. The Mirror wasn't the only outlet to mistakenly refer to apprenticeship applicants—ITV news did too.

The final figures show that there were 1.8 million applications in 2013/14, and 166,000 apprenticeship vacancies—a rate of about one in 11.

Over 1.8 million applications last year but not 1.8 million applicants

The apprenticeship figures are released per quarter. IPPR and the LGA told us the figures referred to by the Mirror were the earlier version of the 2013/14 figures, before the data for the last quarter was included.

The updated figures show that 1.8 million applications were made in 2013/14.

No figures are published to tell us how many people this is—the same is true for the figures about the number of apprenticeships started each year.

166,000 apprenticeship vacancies

In 2013/14 there were 166,000 vacancies, so this works out at a rate of one in 11.

The Mirror has said it will correct its article with the right figures and the references to applicants. We've asked ITV to correct the reference to applicants too.

Image credits: Lauren Mitchell on Flickr

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