Delivering change: Making apprenticeships work in cities

The apprenticeships system can be difficult to navigate. This report draws out lessons for making the policy a success.

Report published on 14 April 2016 by Elli Thomas, Maire Williams and Ilona Serwicka


Apprenticeships are an increasingly important element of the UK’s approach to skills and employment policy, with the government setting itself a target of creating 3 million more apprenticeships by 2020. Nearly two thirds of new apprentices are starting in one of England’s 55 biggest cities, so cities are going to be crucial for both delivering the 2020 target, and ensuring that these new apprenticeships support the country’s future economic success.

However, there are important issues that have been raised about whether or not the apprenticeships being delivered under our current system are meeting these ambitions. The apprenticeships system is often complex and difficult to navigate. This report explores how cities and their partners are responding to this complexity and how they are flexing the system to deliver the local outcomes that employers and apprentices want.

The report shows that a rapidly changing policy landscape over the last two decades has increased risk and confusion for employers, training providers, schools and young people. In a series of case studies, it explores some of the ways in which local partners have been proactive in addressing those challenges, and draws out the lessons for other places in creating apprenticeships.

The apprenticeship system is nationally led, and there are things that central Government should do in order to assist local places in making the best of apprenticeships:

  • Encourage and support the evaluation of the changing apprenticeship system, particularly the levy, in order to improve understanding of the impact these changes will have on quality and quantity, and awareness and behaviour in different places.
  • Provide timely, up-to-date and clear information on the changes in the apprenticeship system in order to help local partners to respond effectively.

Challenges and lessons of apprenticeships



16-04-12 Delivering-Change-Apprenticeships PDF (7 MB)

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