Why are level 2 apprenticeships important?

The amount of lower level apprenticeships has fallen in recent years.

Why are level 2 apprenticeships important?

Level 2 apprenticeships are a vital part of skills development and social mobility. 

But despite this, the amount of lower level apprenticeships has actually fallen in recent years. Between 2013-2017, the number of level 2 apprenticeship starts fell by 11%, and level 3 starts dropped by 6%. On the flip side, higher apprenticeships (levels 4-7) have increased by 269% in the same period.  

Upskilling employees

This move to high-level skills development is vital for the UK economy, but it may be responsible for the decline in level 2 starts. Many employers paying the apprenticeship levy are using the funds to upskill existing employees rather than invest in lower level staff.  

Another potential reason is that funding for functional skills in English and maths is no longer in the apprenticeship allowance – even though it’s still a mandatory part of the course. Employers need to gain additional funding to get their apprentices through functional skills, which is discouraging employers from taking on the most challenging individuals.  

Level 2 apprenticeships

This decline in level 2 apprenticeships is really worrying as they play an important role in social mobility. Low-level apprenticeships give people the opportunity to get started in their chosen field, and climb the ladder to higher qualifications.  

Mike Thompson, head of apprenticeships at Barclays, said; ‘level 2 qualifications play a crucial role in helping individuals who need to build their core entry-level skills, gain their maths and English qualification or the vital work experience required for employment.’  

Without level 2 apprenticeships, the most disadvantaged people could be left behind. Without a stepping stone into the world of work, they wouldn’t have the opportunity to progress their career and improve their lifetime earning potential.  

But level 2 apprenticeships aren’t just important for social mobility – they're vital for businesses too.  

Level 2 apprenticeships bring talent into the workforce, increase productivity and help plug the skills gap. At Barclays, they found that their biggest net productivity gains came from level 2 apprenticeships. One of their level 2 schemes had the potential to boost output by £1.8 million – and across the business, each apprentice boosts productivity by £18,000 over a four-year period.  

These benefits are too big to ignore. Level 2 apprenticeships are really important for everyone, so we need to do more to advertise the benefits and encourage employers to invest in lower level staff. Without people working from the bottom up, our economy could grind to a halt. We need admin staff, health and social care workers, chefs, and lifeguards – they all fill vital roles, and they’ll progress to become our business leaders of tomorrow.  

Thinking about hiring an apprentice? Download our free guide to find out everything you need to know about hiring an apprentice – including the responsibilities, benefits, funding and support available.  

Download guide


This article includes research and opinion sourced by OneFile at the time of publication. Things may have changed since then,
so this research is to be used at the reader's discretion. OneFile is not liable for any action taken based on this research.