Our position on the public sector apprenticeship target

The number of apprenticeships for people who need additional support to enter the world of work could plummet if the government does not review the terms of its apprenticeship target.

Half of the target is not under council control

London Councils is concerned that the government’s proposed new apprenticeship target for local authorities is not realistic because 50 per cent of the target is based on the workforce of maintained schools. This could mean that individuals with Special Educational Needs or from disadvantaged backgrounds may miss out, as councils will have to focus on meeting the target and will not have the time and resources needed to offer additional support.

Breakdown of the new target

The government’s apprenticeship target requires every public sector organisation to ensure that 2.3 per cent of their employees are apprentices from April 2017. 

Cllr Peter John, London Councils’ executive member for children, skills and employment, said:

“While we support the government’s plans to encourage apprentice recruitment, it is unfair to include school employees in borough workforce headcounts when calculating the apprenticeship target. This doubles the target for councils, yet they cannot influence schools to create more apprenticeships. Cllr Peter John

“An unrealistically high target risks undermining the government’s ambition to create opportunities that benefit employers, apprentices and the economy. London boroughs are really good at helping people with Special Educational Needs or from disadvantaged backgrounds access apprenticeships, but these more vulnerable groups of people may miss out in future if public sector bodies have to focus on a target that is unrealistically high. 

“If councils were able to count the number of apprentices they directly employ as well as those they are able to negotiate as part of their procurement activities it would result in a target that is stretching but achievable, and would incentivise them to boost the number of apprenticeships they offer to young people from all backgrounds.” 

London Councils is calling on government to:

  • Set an apprenticeship target for councils which is not based on the workforce of maintained schools. 
  • Promote apprenticeship progression by counting different qualification levels separately.
  • Allow boroughs to count apprenticeships generated in their supply chain.
  • Calculate the target based on the number of full time posts in each borough, rather than a headcount of staff. 

Apprenticeship resources

London Councils offer a number of resources about apprenticeships in London.

Skills London

Interactive map with apprenticeship opportunities in the boroughs.


Targets, guides and tookits

Apprenticeship Awards

The Apprenticeship Awards showcase the value of apprenticeships. Applications for this award have now closed