Apprenticeships by industry characteristics data

New research by the Dept for Education on apprenticeships has revealed which sector is the most popular, what is preferred by each gender and where in the country apprenticeship starts are lowest

Some areas that may be of interest:

1. Health and social work dominates

The data shows that health and social work is clearly the most popular sector for apprentices, making up 27 per cent (121,680) of all starts in 2016/17, up from 23 per cent (104,170) in 2012/13. It was also the most popular for higher apprenticeships, making up 43 per cent of all higher apprenticeship starts in 2016/17.

Women choose social work, men choose construction

The data also shows that traditional ideas of gender roles are still holding strong among apprenticeships. In 2016/17, 88 per cent of all starts in the construction sector were by men, and construction, manufacturing and wholesale and retail trade between them accounted for 40 per cent of all male apprenticeship starts.

In comparison, 85 per cent of all starts in the health and social work sector were women, which accounted for 43 per cent of all female starts.

Since 2012/13, the number of female apprenticeship starts have dropped from 244,380 to 238,290, but men have increased from 205,880 to 211,530.

 Large employers make up the majority of starts
Although large employers (those with 250 or more employees) made up just nine per cent of all employers with apprenticeship starts in 2016-17, 46 per cent of all apprenticeship starts were at large employers. This is a decrease of three per cent from 2012/13.

Small employers (less than 50 employees) took on 37 per cent of apprenticeship starts, with medium sized employers (50-249 employees) the least likely to have an apprentice, taking on just 17 per cent.

Differences by age

Heath and social work is more likely to be dominated by older apprentices, with 66 per cent of its starts being from those aged 25 and over in 2016-17.

The youngest apprentices, under 19s, made up over half (54 per cent) of those in the ‘other services’ sector, while 42 per cent of starts in public administration and defence were from apprentices aged between 19 and 24.

View report


Written by

Sally Garbett


1, November 2018


About the Author

Sally Garbett

Sally Garbett

Education and Apprenticeship associate, St Christopher's Hospice

Sally Garbett is the Apprenticeship lead and Vocational Programmes Manager at St Christopher’s where her role is to manage and develop apprenticeships and the vocational education and qualifications offered to external and internal staff. Sally has been involved in Apprenticeships since 1995 and most recently in the development of the healthcare standards, including the Nursing Associate role. Prior to working for St Christopher’s Sally was a freelance consultant and has over twenty five years' experience in qualification development, regulatory activities and delivery. She is also a licensed and qualified user of the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) to develop teams and individuals.

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