00Executive Summary

Apprenticeships are an increasingly important element of the UK’s skills and employment policies. 499,900 people started an apprenticeship in England in 2014/15 up from 180,000 in 1995, and the government has set itself a target of creating 3 million more apprenticeships by 2020.1 2

To achieve this target, the Government has announced a series of major reforms to the apprenticeship system over the next few years.

With nearly two thirds of these new apprenticeships (63 per cent) being started in one of England’s 55 biggest cities, cities are going to be crucial for delivering the 2020 target and more importantly for ensuring that these new apprenticeships support the country’s future economic success.

For city-based organisations – such as employers, training providers, colleges, schools, local authorities, Chambers of Commerce and Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) – involved in delivering apprenticeships, there are a series of challenges associated with making the apprenticeship programme work.

The report explores how local partners have responded to these challenges and draws out a series of lessons for other places in creating apprenticeships (see Figure 1).

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.

Figure 1: Challenges, case studies and lessons for delivering apprenticeships in cities

Challenges, case studies and lessons for delivering apprenticeships in cities


  • 1 BIS (2016) Skills Funding Agency data.
  • 2 Mizra-Davies J (2015) Apprenticeship Policy, England prior to 2010. House of Commons Library Briefing Paper Number 07266, 23 July 2015.