Science Industry Partnership

SIP Apprenticeship Survey 2018

Assessing the impact of the apprenticeship reforms on the science-based industries

Following significant reforms to the apprenticeship system in England, the SIP has carried out its first ever Apprenticeship Survey.  This is a comprehensive survey of employers across the science industries and has gathered information on apprenticeship uptake across the sector, including the impact of the levy that was introduced in 2017.

The 2018 survey shows:

  • Majority of employers’ levy contribution remains unrecovered: only 13% of the levy raised by the respondents has been recovered for training apprentices
    • 23% recovered for Industrial Sciences
    • 6% recovered for Life Sciences
  • More flexible rules are required: 38% of respondents would like more flexibility around the 20% off-the-job training rule and 28% would like more time to spend funds
  • Range of apprenticeship standards developed and training provision on offer not meeting needs: 56% would like to see a wider range of standards being developed and 30% would like increased fit-for-purpose local training provision
  • Apprenticeships remain popular: 74% of employers plan to train apprentices in the next 12 months
  • Apprenticeships are building a talent pipeline: 60% of apprentices are new recruits
  • Apprenticeships are also increasingly being using to upskill the workforce: 40% of respondents have started using apprenticeships to upskill/retrain the existing workforce
  • Apprenticeships are a more established activity in Industrial Sciences: of the 1,430 apprentices within the survey, 812 are from Industrial Sciences with the remaining 618 training within Life Sciences
  • Diversity challenge remains: The Life Sciences sector has a somewhat less marked gender imbalance, with a 38% female apprentice cohort, compared with 26% for the Industrial Sciences
  • Apprenticeships are building a new talent pipeline: 20% were reported aged 16-18, 55% were 19-24, 24% were 25-49 and around 1% were over 50
  • Apprenticeships are at Higher Levels: when compared with apprenticeships across all sectors, the science industries have a higher proportion of Advanced and Higher Level apprentices. Science sector-wide 30% are at a Higher Level (Levels 4-7); this is 54% for Life Sciences, 28% for Industrial Sciences and 12% for all sectors of the economy
  • More apprenticeship promotion is required: most of the science employers who participated in telephone consultations remarked they would like to see more activity to promote the apprenticeship route into science careers.

From the survey results, the SIP has made the following recommendations:

Recommendation 1
Introduce the ability for employers to collaborate on apprenticeships and pool levy in order to increase numbers and support SMEs through vehicles such as Apprenticeship Training Agencies (ATAs).

Recommendation 2
Continue development of employer-led science industry apprenticeship standards and ensure provider capability to deliver them.

Recommendation 3
Introduce flexibilities to apprenticeships and use of the levy to increase company engagement.

Recommendation 4
Increase the profile and promotion of the apprenticeship route into the science industry sector.

Recommendation 5
Record data on apprenticeships at a sectoral level and ensure use of sector levy in support of Industrial Strategy and Sector Deals.

Download the full Apprenticeship Survey 2018 report.  

View the full list of survey questions.

For any information regarding the Apprenticeship Survey please contact