How focused are you on maximising your apprentice experience?

Research shows that the quality of the relationship that the apprentice has with their employer, their training provider and their workplace support functions are critical factors in predicting if that the apprentice will complete the apprenticeship. Nearly half of all apprentices leave their course before they complete. It doesn’t have to be that way. 

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47% of apprentices did not complete their apprenticeship in 2021

In the academic year 2021-22, 348,000 apprentices started their course, if history is a reliable indicator then we already know that some 114,000 apprentices will drop out before they complete.

We know this, yet not enough organisations and training providers are taking notice and implementing actions to address this costly drain.

At investors in People, we have long been aware of these startling numbers and have proactively worked with the Department of Education to draw attention to the critical pathways that support apprentices in the workplace, not just focusing on the sign-up rates, but also on the quality of the apprentice experience and the subsequent completion rate.

The scale of the issue is now such that radical action needs to be taken to protect this as a viable route for employers and apprentices, and for those considering pursing the apprenticeship route to understand the quality of the provision based on past performance, namely completion rates.

It’s now time to dig deeper into the critical failings of the current apprenticeship system to understand and eliminate the factors that are negatively impacting a meaningful route to training, skilling, reskilling and development. 

Why is the non-complete rate for apprenticeships so high?

Research published in 2022 by The St Martin’s Group, and again supported by the BBC later that year, threw a spotlight on the critical metrics associated with Apprenticeship completions, and how a system of training and qualification designed with the very specific intent to help employees progress in their chosen field is actually failing to deliver for the very stakeholders it was designed to help.

Whether using an apprenticeship as a route to employment, a method of training for career development or growth, it’s built on the understanding that both employer and apprentice respect the obligation to make the apprenticeship a success for both parties.

In many ways the levels of experience in this field are wildly different so it inevitably falls on the employer to ensure that the apprentice can make the journey successfully. It’s the employer who must take responsibility for their development, by providing the optimal conditions for the apprentice to thrive.

In exchange for that, the employer engages an active participant who is willing to learn, wants the advancement and is able to fulfil critical skills gaps now, as well as being part of a talent drive to aid the organisations future success and embed succession planning over many years. 

It seems like the perfect win-win doesn’t it?

Then why are nearly half of all apprentices withdrawing before their training is complete?

It’s an interesting question and one that’s worth digging into if you, your team or your organisation are in the midst of your own apprentice recruitment or, better still, thinking of going down this route.

So, let’s go…

The St Martin’s Group research* showed that 37% of the apprentices they surveyed had left their apprenticeship scheme early, and over two-thirds them had not reached the end of their training programme, as they withdrew between 6-12 months into their course.

Further BBC research produced later in 2022 **, stated that nearly half of all apprentices were withdrawing early.

So, for a system that is supported by the Government, designed specifically for people to increase their impact in the workplace, and for organisations to build their own talent bench – how did it get to the point where between 37-49% of apprentices actually leave the apprentice system before the full benefits have been realised?

Is a poor apprentice experience hurting your completion rates?

Start the journey to a better apprenticeship programe today

Our dedicated and experienced practitioners have worked across all industries and with all sizes of organisation to #makeworkbetter for apprentices and drive business success and longevity.

What is wrong with the apprenticeship route to employment in the UK?

Key frictions points of the apprenticeship experience

All systems have friction points – where the line snags or the engine gets over-heated. They are not design flaws, more like symptoms that extra care needs to be taken, so applying this same thinking to the life of an apprentice, some of the friction points encountered by departing apprentices were identified broadly as a negative experience with the apprenticeship program.

Research no matter how vigorously executed, has a way of presenting nice clean lines, but, based on our experience at Investors in People, we know that it is rarely just one factor, (and may well be a bundle of factors) that actually causes an individual to withdraw from a situation that is no longer satisfying their needs. 

Either way, a non-completion is a non-completion and this is not good for apprentice, the organisation or the UK Government who have positioned apprenticeships as a key route to energising the UK plc drive to upskill for the future and help build strategic competitive advantage on a global scale. 

Mismatching expectations typically arising in areas around:

Furthermore, based on this research and prevailing conversations, quote often we hear of a real mismatch of expectations of apprentices when it comes to their real world experiences of the apprenticeship.

We can show you the easy way to maximise apprentice completion rates

Start the journey to a better apprenticeship programe today

Our dedicated and experienced practitioners have worked across all industries and with all sizes of organisation to #makeworkbetter for apprentices and drive business success and longevity.

What does make a great apprentice experience?

Contrasting this are the factors that, according to the St.Martins Group study, do make a marked impact on completion rates then we learn that apprentices in this position report:

With particular praise being given to situations where the apprentice was provided with:

So, the route to apprenticeship success is clear?

Setting up the apprentice for success it critical to whether they complete their program. Having apprentices complete their apprenticeship is an important inflexion point in the economic realisation of an employer’s efforts into guaranteeing the future success of the organisation. The fundamental foundations of the apprenticeship scheme is a completion without which all other plans are rendered redundant.…the critical skill sets are not built, the talent bench remains empty, the organisation is at the whim and will of the labour market and the competition of skills is both costly and fierce… 

All this begs one critical question…

As an employer, are you setting your apprentices up for success?

To what degree are you:

These are just a few of the critical questions for discussion, using the We invest in apprentices framework is one of the key all-encompassing ways to ensure that your apprenticeship scheme is designed for success – maximising experience and completions 

We Invest in Apprentices

Commissioned by the DfE, our framework looks at every key aspect of what it takes to build an execute and apprenticeship scheme that delivers positive and predictable results for the apprentice, the employer and UK plc. 

We were commissioned by the Department for Education to develop a blueprint to measure the quality of apprenticeships schemes, and: 

How did we create We invest in apprentices

What does the We Invest in Apprentices framework cover?

It covers 3 areas; Commitment, Development, Communication & Support



Communication & Support

It’s a SUCCESS measure for the QUALITY of your apprenticeship scheme

Historically, while the government targets look more keenly at the quantity of apprentices who are signed up to the apprenticeship schemes, the We invest in apprentices accreditation is clearly focused on the quality of the apprentice experience – hence addressing the key issues outlined in the St Martin’s Group research building pathways to ensure accredited organisations are working positively to avoid such issues.

Adopting the We invest in apprentices framework means your organisation is focused on the quality of the apprentice experience…it’s success by design!

The We invest in apprentices accreditation is awarded to employers who are able to clearly demonstrate that they have a commitment to apprentices, to their development and to ensuring that strong lines of communication and duty of care is paramount in the relationship.

Furthermore, apart from being the quality mark for a purposeful and well designed apprenticeship scheme, the framework is also proactively used by those employers wishing to either design an apprenticeship scheme from scratch or to upgrade the quality of an existing program.

If either of these align with where you are in your apprentice journey then please feel free to reach out to discuss how this accreditation can help you. 

Continue the discussion here

To find out more about our We invest in apprentices accreditation, how it works and how it could be applied to your organisation, drop your details in the form below and we’ll be in touch 


Ready to make work better? Complete the form below and one of our team will be in touch to discuss your accreditation enquiry.