As demonstrated by the statistical first release published today (http://www. thedataservice.org.uk/statistics/statisticalfirstrelease/sfr _current/) we have seen a record year for apprenticeships, both in respect of the volumes of people starting and completing their apprenticeship. Provisional data for the full 2010-11 academic year show starts increased by over 50% to 442,700 with increases at all levels. Completions also saw a strong increase to 181,700.
We have delivered increases in apprenticeship starts at all age groups. Provisional data show that numbers of apprenticeship starts increased to 128,300 for those aged under 19, 138,900 for 19 to 24-year-olds and 175,500 for those aged 25 and over in 2010-11. For young people in particular, these are positive figures in a time when they are facing particular challenges in the labour market. This is very encouraging and employers are continuing to use apprenticeships as a means of developing the skills they need for their businesses.
Apprenticeships are first and foremost sustainable jobs, which makes it a remarkable achievement to deliver growth in the programme on such a scale. We can be confident that the growth being reported today is in those apprenticeships which businesses value and are investing in. Growth is evident across sectors.
We will build upon this success and continue to improve and strengthen the programme further so even more individuals and employers can access and benefit from an apprenticeship programme that is world class. As we look to the future we will continue to improve access to apprenticeships; improve and drive up quality for all apprenticeships; reduce bureaucracy; expand advanced level and higher apprenticeships and give employers greater ownership of the programme.