• Fraser Harper

Tracking down apprentices

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together, we find there are only 89 standards listed, and we don’t find a match for 8 standards as they have now been withdrawn.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 We also find a further 10 standards which have been withdrawn which have been balanced by the addition of a further 22 standards.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 2018-19Standard NumberOccupationST0014Aviation maintenance mechanic (military)ST00331Motor vehicle services and maintenance technician (light vehicle)ST00661Road transport engineering managerST00671Bus and coach engineering technicianST0068Heavy vehicle service and maintenance technicianST0145Mineral processing weighbridge operatorST01542Maintenance and operations engineering technicianST01963Food and drink advanced process operatorST01993Food and drink process operatorST02492Science industry maintenance technicianST02904Nuclear health physics monitorST0309Print technicianST03161Rail engineering advanced technicianST03171Rail engineering operativeST03181Rail engineering technicianST03521Accident repair technicianST0376Motorcycle technician (repair and maintenance)ST03931Advanced dairy technologistST04031Vehicle damage panel technicianST0405Vehicle damage mechanical, electrical & trim (MET) technicianST0406Vehicle damage assessorST0407Process automation engineer (degree)ST0420Lean manufacturing operativeST04481Vehicle damage paint technicianST0465Risk and safety management professional (degree)ST0495Rail and rail system engineerST0496Rail and rail systems services engineer (degree)ST0497Rail and rail systems principal engineer (degree)ST0498Specialist tyre operativeST04991Auto-care technicianST0511Mineral and construction product sampling and testing operationsST0515Manufacturing manager (degree)ST05281High speed rail and infrastructure technicianST0531Wood product manufacturing operativeST05405Fashion and textiles product technologistST05415Fashion and textiles pattern cutterST05496Sewing machinistST0581Textile technical specialistST06043Textile care operativeST0605Mineral products technicianST0622Bicycle mechanicST0623Marine technical superintendent (degree)ST0624Food 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

#DepartmentforEducation #IfATE

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