In England, there are two key sources of data on apprentices.  One is the Department for Education (DfE), which releases quarterly data for apprentices signing-up for specific courses; the second is the Institute for Apprenticeship and Technical Education (IfATE), which facilitates the development of apprenticeship standards (now replacing the old frameworks of the SSA) and maintains their relevance through a series of employer-based panels.

It is reasonable to expect the two systems to link in some way. Let’s examine this by looking at the IfATE Engineering and Manufacturing Occupational Map.

At time of writing, the Map covers 122 standards available for delivery at the present time. If we take the latest quarterly release of apprentice starts from the DfE and attempt to match the two together, we find there are only 89 standards listed, and we don’t find a match for 8 standards as they have now been withdrawn. We find also a further 41 standards for which there are apparently no apprentices signed up (see Table 1 below). We also find a further 10 standards which have been withdrawn which have been balanced by the addition of a further 22 standards.

The picture is further complicated by the categories used by the two different sources of information. The DfE uses two separate categories: Engineering, and Manufacturing Technologies; while the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education uses a single category, Engineering and Manufacturing. In addition to this we find that the individual occupations (and their associated standards) included in one set of categories differs from the other one. This means trying to calculate the numbers of apprentices flowing along an occupational map is subject to judgement.

We can also identify those occupations (and standards) which have no apprentices participating in 2018-19 and there does appear to be a pattern, particularly around occupations for road transport, rail engineering, textiles and food. On more detailed analysis we find that of the 41 occupations listed in the IfATE occupational map for engineering and manufacturing, 21 are classified differently under six other categories by the Department for Education – again, see Table 1 below.

Our conclusion?  Overall, these differences make it very difficult to reconcile the DfE data on apprentice numbers and entrants with the standards and their uptake. Going forward, these differences should be reconciled to allow the tracking of apprentice numbers and so aid in the evaluation of the effectiveness of the current apprentice training policy.

Table 1: Listing of the occupations (standards) in the Engineering and Manufacturing Occupational Map Apparently without Apprentices in 2018-19
Standard Number Occupation
ST0014 Aviation maintenance mechanic (military)
ST00331 Motor vehicle services and maintenance technician (light vehicle)
ST00661 Road transport engineering manager
ST00671 Bus and coach engineering technician
ST0068 Heavy vehicle service and maintenance technician
ST0145 Mineral processing weighbridge operator
ST01542 Maintenance and operations engineering technician
ST01963 Food and drink advanced process operator
ST01993 Food and drink process operator
ST02492 Science industry maintenance technician
ST02904 Nuclear health physics monitor
ST0309 Print technician
ST03161 Rail engineering advanced technician
ST03171 Rail engineering operative
ST03181 Rail engineering technician
ST03521 Accident repair technician
ST0376 Motorcycle technician (repair and maintenance)
ST03931 Advanced dairy technologist
ST04031 Vehicle damage panel technician
ST0405 Vehicle damage mechanical, electrical & trim (MET) technician
ST0406 Vehicle damage assessor
ST0407 Process automation engineer (degree)
ST0420 Lean manufacturing operative
ST04481 Vehicle damage paint technician
ST0465 Risk and safety management professional (degree)
ST0495 Rail and rail system engineer
ST0496 Rail and rail systems services engineer (degree)
ST0497 Rail and rail systems principal engineer (degree)
ST0498 Specialist tyre operative
ST04991 Auto-care technician
ST0511 Mineral and construction product sampling and testing operations
ST0515 Manufacturing manager (degree)
ST05281 High speed rail and infrastructure technician
ST0531 Wood product manufacturing operative
ST05405 Fashion and textiles product technologist
ST05415 Fashion and textiles pattern cutter
ST05496 Sewing machinist
ST0581 Textile technical specialist
ST06043 Textile care operative
ST0605 Mineral products technician
ST0622 Bicycle mechanic
ST0623 Marine technical superintendent (degree)
ST0624 Food and drink engineer


  1. in Transportation Operations and Maintenance
  2. in Construction
  3. in Retail and commercial enterprise
  4. in Health, public service and care
  5. in Crafts, creative arts and design
  6. in Arts, media and publishing