"We've done 54,000 already, apprenticeships, proper apprenticeships, 85 per cent of them stay on in their jobs…"
Boris Johnson, ITV Mayoral Debate, 25 April 2012
Earlier this week the candidates for London Mayor battled it out on ITV. In response to one question from an audience member regarding opportunities for London's youth Boris claimed that he had created 54,000 apprenticeships and that 85 per cent of them had led to jobs.
This is a claim that Boris has made throughout his campaign and it can be found in his press releases and in his economic manifesto 'Growing the London economy'.
So is this claim accurate?
The figures used by Boris during the debate were rounded and more precise figures can be found in the press release published yesterday:
"Boris Johnson has doubled the number of apprenticeships with 54,470 created over the past 18 months."
"Boris Johnson has overseen 84 per cent of apprenticeships being converted into real jobs"
Relevant figures on apprenticeships can be found from the Data service - a body established by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills - which provides data on post-16 education, including apprenticeships.
The most recent publication provides a breakdown of apprenticeship starts by region. Data from 2010/11 onwards can be found here:
It is important to note that the figures for 2011/12 are provisional and therefore not comparable with previous years.
The sections highlighted in red cover the year 2010/11 and August to January of 2011/12 This covers a period of 18 months - the timeframe that Boris mentions. However, when we add these numbers up we are left with a figure of 63,700 apprenticeship starts.
However this table is taken from statistics released on 29 March 2012 and Boris has been making his claim regarding the number of apprenticeships since a press release published on 7 February 2012. This date would suggest his campaign is reporting on the figures as they stood on 6 February this year (only providing the data up to 2010/11).
As Boris's figure covers an 18 month period this would suggest that he has taken them from quarterly figures but we have been unable to find quarterly figures on the Data Service website that relate to apprenticeships broken down by region.
We have been in contact with the Boris campaign regarding the source of the 54,470 figure and we will update the factcheck accordingly.
Luckily the source of the 84 per cent figure is cited in the 25 April press release. It was taken from a report produced by the Learning and Skills Council: 'The Benefits of Completing an Apprenticeship'.
However it should be noted that this report was published in 2009 and seems somewhat out-of-date when discussing the success of recent apprenticeships.
The report surveyed 3,808 apprentices at the end of 2008 and beginning of 2009. All of their apprenticeships had come to an end between 2004 and 2008. Of these 3,808, 3,215 had completed the apprenticeships (84.4 per cent) while 593 had left early. The sample was weighted to match the apprenticeship population as a whole.
A table representing the current employment status of apprentices can be found below:
The most recent year for which data is provided shows that 65 per cent of apprentices got work from the employer where they did their apprenticeship, along with 19 per cent who found work with another employer. This gives 84 per cent in total. Adding the self-employed on gives a total of 86 per cent finding some form of work.
Alternately, if we add the number of apprentices from the 'All' column working with the employer where they did their apprenticeship (53), those working with another employer (28) and the number of self-employed (3) then we achieve the figure of 84 per cent that Boris is referring to.
However the Boris campaign fail to mention that the figure of 84 per cent figure applies only to those who have actually completed their apprenticeships, and does not factor in the number of individuals who started an apprenticeship and then dropped out.
If we assume that 54,470 "created" apprenticeships is accurate then it is reasonable to assume that some will not finish it. To estimate just how many we need to know the completion rate of apprenticeships. The Boris campaign cited the report by the Learning and Skills Council, which states there is normally a completion rate of 64 per cent.
Based on this, if Boris's 54,470 figure only applies to apprenticeship starts, only around 34,861 are likely to complete their apprenticeships if we use the LSC's rate. 84 per cent of these, or 29,283, will find employment. This would mean that, on this interpretation, only 54 per cent of started apprenticeships under Boris will end up in employment.
However Boris Johnson's campaign were unable to verify what the figure actually meant, so we remain in the dark as to how to understand his claim.
We remain in contact with the Boris campaign and we will update this factcheck accordingly when the source of the 54,000 apprenticeships figure is made clear.
However from the available evidence there are some reasons to doubt the claim that 84 per cent "stay on in their jobs". The Learning and Skills council estimates show that a figure this high only applies to those who have also moved into work with another employer.
In addition, even taking the 84 per cent to refer to the proportion who have found work, this still only applies to those who have actually completed the apprenticeships. If Boris's figure only applies to the number of people who started them, then the overall proportion of the apprenticeships that can be proven to have led to a job could be as little as 50 per cent.
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