To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what progress his Department is making on meeting the 2.3 per cent public sector apprenticeship target; and when his Department will meet that target.
The Ministry of Defence (MOD) is proud to be one of the largest deliverers of apprenticeships in the UK, with over 20,000 personnel engaged on a nationally recognised apprenticeship programme at any one time and over 90 per cent of our non-commissioned military recruits offered an apprenticeship relating to their trade. Public sector bodies with 250 or more staff have a target to employ an average of at least 2.3 per cent of their staff as new apprentice starts over the period 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2021. The Armed Forces are exceeding this target with an average of 8.3 per cent of employees starting an apprenticeship in 2017-2019.
The MOD's Civil Service is contributing towards the overall Civil Service public sector target. As of 31 March 2020, the Civil Service had achieved a total of 2.1 per cent of its total workforce as apprentices against the legislative target for the public sector of 2.3 per cent by March 2021. This has increased from 1.6 per cent the year before. The MOD's Civil Service has achieved 1.5 per cent of the total staff employed within the Department as apprentices. Given this target is a percentage of the total workforce, the percentage changes in line with workforce fluctuations over time, making it challenging to predict when a Department will meet it. The data for 2018-19 can be found on the gov.uk website:
The data for 2019-20 will be released on the gov.uk website by the end of September 2020.
Departments are committed to increasing the number of apprentices across the Civil Service and continue to work towards the 2.3 per cent target. The impact of the current pandemic has slowed recruitment due to priority work and logistics. With the current strategy and targets coming to an end in April 2021, the Civil Service is already focusing on how to continue to support the apprenticeship agenda and drive forward apprenticeship recruitment, pulling on the Plan for Jobs initiative and considering the current economic situation.
However, as a Department, between April 2015 and 31 March 2020, we have successfully committed to enrolling 50,000 apprenticeships, exceeding our target one year ahead of schedule.