Last updated – 01 March 2019

Introduction to the topic

An apprenticeship is a job that combines work with training. Successive governments have considered apprenticeships to be a key way of developing skills. In spring 2017, significant reforms were made to support delivery of the apprenticeships programme in England, including additional funding rules, the introduction of the apprenticeship levy and changes to how employers pay for apprenticeships.

Before the introduction of the reforms, there was a regular pattern of apprenticeship starts, with a peak in the number of starts each September. This pattern was disrupted around the time that the levy was introduced, with a spike of nearly 80,000 starts in April 2017 (when employers and training providers could still use the pre-levy arrangements); and a fall to fewer than 15,000 starts in May and June 2017 (when employers and training providers had to use the new system).

The NAO most recently reported on the apprenticeships programme in March 2019. The full report can be found here:

How to use the visualisation

Watch the video to help you navigate your way through the visualisations.

Text transcript of video (HTML)


All the graphics are interactive.

  • Hovering over points on the charts gives you more detailed information.
  • Hovering over areas on the maps displays the name of the area.
  • If you click on an area on the map, a pop-up with more detailed information for that area will be displayed.
  • Use the search function on the map to find, pan and zoom to an area
  • Clicking the reset button or changing the boundary type or apprenticeship level on the map will reset the map to its original view.
  • If an error message displays, please refresh the page to reload.


Explore the changes in the pattern of apprenticeship starts and maps showing where apprenticeships are taking place, in the dashboards below.

If you’re having trouble viewing the visualisation on this page, or viewing it on a mobile device, here is a direct link to the visualisation. If you are still having problems, contact us.

More information

Frequently Asked Questions

Where does this data come from?

All data in the visualisation comes from National Audit Office analysis of data from the Department for Education or, for the maps, from National Audit Office analysis of data from the Department for Education and the Office for National Statistics. You can find links to the raw data in the text to the left of each visualisation.

Why has the NAO published this data?

This visualisation has been released as a supplementary output to our report on The apprenticeships programme.

Why does the data cover only England?

Education and skills, including apprenticeships, are a devolved matter. The National Audit Office report covers only the apprenticeship programmes in England, which is the responsibility of the Department for Education.

Where can I find out more about apprenticeships in England?

Visit the apprenticeships page to find out more about apprenticeships.

My question is not answered here, where can I get more information?

Phone the NAO Enquiries point +44 (0)20 7798 7264.

Alternatively, you can email general enquiries to or use our online contact form.