Apprenticeship boom! UK records dramatic rise in the number of people starting an apprenticeship

Posted on: 20th Oct 2022

The number of people beginning an apprenticeship in the UK is increasing with a 14.1% rise in new starters year on year, according to the latest Government statistics.

Data published this week by the Office for National Statistics confirmed 288,800 people started an apprenticeship during the 2021-22 academic year – an increase of more than 35,000 compared to the same period 12 months previous.

Higher apprenticeships – Levels 4 and 5 – accounted for almost a third of starts (30.6%) while 124,000 learners (42.9%) enrolled onto a Level 3 advanced apprenticeship.

The latest enrolment figures saw the UK pass a landmark figure when the 5,000,000th apprentice started their vocational qualification since May 2010.

Justin Merritt, CEO of Oxford-based registered training provider Ignite Training, said the statistics underline how apprenticeships are being widely accepted as providing a proven pathway to employment and further education.

“For many years, apprenticeships were highly misunderstood by a significant number of people who assumed they only served specific sectors and supported the development of certain skillsets,” said Justin.

“It’s been one of our biggest challenges at Ignite Training since starting our apprenticeship delivery in 2008 – nine years after the company was formed – to educate people about the power of apprenticeships.

“Modern-day apprenticeships are fully fit for purpose and place the employee at the heart of training, education and personal development in multiple sectors.

“With more school leavers valuing paid on-the-job development and companies upskilling staff to enhance productivity and employee satisfaction, we forecast an additional increase in the number of apprenticeship starters in years to come.

“This week’s statistics are encouraging and prove a clear demand for vocational qualifications.”

One of the biggest assumptions connected to apprenticeships are that programmes are for school leavers and young adults only.

This week’s data revealed less than a quarter (23.7%) of apprenticeship starters in 2021-22 were aged 18 or younger.

With almost a third of apprentices studying for a qualification equivalent to an undergraduate or foundation degree, Justin said apprenticeships are open to people at all stages of their career – even those holding senior roles.

“We’ve noticed a significant shift in how employers are viewing apprenticeships and their power to upskill existing staff since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Justin.

“People at all stages of their career should never lose that desire to learn and expose themselves to new challenges by developing skills which can boost productivity and help them progress professionally.

“It’s why we upgraded our apprenticeship portfolio this summer to include two new programmes for team leaders and managers with the first wave of learners now studying the programme.

“While the UK faces major economic challenges in the months and possibly years ahead, apprenticeships can act as the lever to encouraging individuals of all ages into long, happy and successful careers.”

If you are interested in learning more about Ignite Training’s apprenticeship provisions and how they help employers and individuals take their professional development to the next level, visit

About Ignite Training

Established in 1999, Ignite’s primary aim is to actively inspire people, and to help create a sense of achievement for everyone. Based in Oxford and operating nationally, we provide a portfolio of training and services to individuals, schools and the sports industry, ranging from weekly clubs for tots to adult courses and apprenticeships.

About Ignite Training