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Following the 2015 General Election, the Government set the target of creating three million new apprenticeships by 2020. Whilst apprenticeship participation reached record levels in 2016/17, rising from 899,400 to 908,700, the number of new apprenticeship starts dropped by 2.8% to 494,900 (DfE, 2017).

In May 2017, the Department for Education launched a series of reforms to the apprenticeship funding system in England, intending to boost the quality and quantity of apprenticeships. This included the apprenticeship levy, requiring all UK employers with an annual pay bill of over £3 million to invest in apprenticeship training. Further measures included the online apprenticeship system and the new ‘co-investment’ rate to support employers who don’t pay the levy. Moreover, the publically funded, Institute for Apprenticeships, was created to drive these initiatives forward.

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