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How are engineering apprenticeships faring? EngineeringUK outlines brand-new data

28 November 2022

Responding to the Department for Education (DfE)’s new apprenticeships data, EngineeringUK has analysed how the engineering sector is performing.

(Image: Shutterstock)
(Image: Shutterstock)

Engineering-related apprenticeship starts have increased at a greater rate than all sector subject areas, increasing by 25.8 percent on 2020/21, compared to an 8.6 percent increase across all sector subject areas. 

However, while apprenticeship starts in ‘engineering and manufacturing technologies’ have picked up again post-pandemic, the long-term decline since 2016/17 is still large. Engineering-related apprenticeship starts are down by 5.5 percent since 2018/19, and down by 12.3 percent since 2016/17. 

There is a promising upwards trend in levels of diversity, particularly with regard to the uptake of engineering apprenticeships by women and people of colour. 

The proportion of women engaging in engineering-related apprenticeships has increased by 6.1 percent since 2016/17. Likewise, there has been a similar increase in the percentage of apprenticeships starts by minority ethnic groups.  For engineering-related apprenticeships, in 2021/22 12.5 percent of starts were by people from an ethnic minority, up from 7.5 percent in 2016/17.

In both cases, the increased participation in engineering-related apprenticeships has stemmed, in particular, from interest in information and communications technology.

Unfortunately, though, engineering is still lagging behind other sectors in terms of gender diversity, in particular. Only 14.2 percent of engineering-related apprenticeship starts are women, compared to 50.8 percent across all subject areas, so a lot more work needs to be done to encourage more women to pursue this subject. 

Beatrice Barleon, Head of Policy & Public Affairs at EngineeringUK, comments: “Today’s apprenticeship data show a step in the right direction – with a positive uptick in apprenticeships starts as we emerge from the pandemic. 

“Given the acute skills shortage and the pressing need for more engineers to support the UK’s net zero ambitions, it’s particularly encouraging to see the engineering and technology sector is ahead of others in attracting people into its fold. 

"However, to meet future skills needs projections, we need to see exponential growth of apprenticeships starts (and finishes!) in the engineering sector, particularly in areas such as construction. 

“Technicians will be particularly vital in making the UK a leading economic power in low carbon technology and we must ensure that we have enough people skilled to fulfil these roles. 

"Importantly, the data also suggests that more needs to be done to enable younger people to enter the engineering sector via the apprenticeship route, with Level 2 and 3 apprenticeships still in decline compared to higher level apprenticeships. Improving the system must focus on growth across all levels of apprenticeships if we are to successfully address current and future skills shortages.” 

The full analysis from EngineeringUK can be found on the EngineeringUK website.

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