A new study from Small Business Prices has analysed the best industries for apprenticeships, the highest-rated employers for apprenticeships, as well as how these have been affected by COVID-19

Small Business Prices has created a study looking at the best industries for apprentices. The data analyses the number of apprenticeship starts and completions for different courses, the best and worst salaries offered in each industry, as well as the top-rated companies for apprenticeships. It also examines the impact COVID-19 has had on apprenticeships and reveals which industries have been affected the most by the pandemic.

As Universities become increasingly expensive to attend, and the job market particularly competitive in the current climate, prospective students may consider other career paths, such as an apprenticeship. However, with so many options, it can be difficult to choose which industry is the most suitable. The table below shows the top 5 industries for apprentices:

The five best industries for apprenticeships:

Industry Apprenticeships Started (2019-20) Apprenticeships Completed (2019-20) Average Salary
Engineering 21,789 6,707 £21,427
Business Management 41,088 13,880 £18,268
Health and Social Care 43,399 17,061 £14,795
Administration 30,898 21,046 £15,253
Accounting and Finance 19,632 6,278 £14,497

Health and Social care rank top of the list and has the highest number of completions across all industries. On the other end of the scale, Animal Care and Veterinary Science, Media and Communications, and Marketing don’t rank well, due to low salaries, as well as having notably fewer apprenticeship starts and completions.

Small Business Prices has evaluated the average salaries prospective apprentices can expect in each industry, revealing both the best and the worst paying.

The top and bottom industries for apprenticeship salaries:

Rank Best salaries Worst salaries
1 Direct Learning Support – £27,669 Animal & Veterinary Science – £8,476
2 Teaching & Lecturing – £24,143 Media & Communications – £10,438
3 Hospitality & Catering – £22,072 Horticulture & Forestry – £11,500
4 Engineering – £21,427 Publishing – £11,789
5 Transport & Maintenance – £21,329 Marketing & Sales – £13,257

When solely considering salary, apprenticeships in Direct Learning Support (which provides support to teachers) and teaching perform particularly well, with an average salary between £24,000-£27,000. Although animal and veterinary science offers the worst salary, it is important to consider the expected earning potential, as a fully qualified vet can earn between £40,000-£70,000.

The effect of COVID-19 on apprenticeships 

The world is continuing to feel the effects of the coronavirus as we try to navigate through these uncertain times. With the most recent restrictions, job security is a concern once again, especially for apprentices who particularly felt the effects of the first wave of COVID-19. This raises the question, which industries have suffered the most?

Rank Industry Apprenticeship Starts (March – July 2019) Apprenticeship Starts (March – July 2020) COVID-19 difference in starts COVID-19 % decrease in starts
1 Health and Social Care 24,058 12,995 11,063 46%
2 Administration 15,888 6,105 9,783 62%
3 Business Management 17,785 10,754 7,031 40%
4 Hospitality and Catering 7,760 2,349 5,411 70%
5 Child Development and Wellbeing 9,667 4,406 5,261 54%
6 Manufacturing Technologies 5,993 2,557 3,436 57%
7 Retailing and Wholesaling 4,930 1,526 3,404 69%
8 Service Enterprises 4,300 1,046 3,254 76%
9 Accounting and Finance 5,769 2,736 3,033 53%
10 ICT Practitioners 6,518 4,037 2,481 38%

Overall, the number of apprenticeship starts during the initial lockdown, 23 March to 31 July 2020 dropped by 45.5% compared to the same period last year. Health and Social Care was the worst-hit industry, with 11,063 (46%) fewer starts between March and July in 2020, compared to the same period in 2019. Other industries have also seen a decline in apprenticeships: Administration (62%), Business Management (40%), Hospitality & Catering (70%) and Child Development & Wellbeing (54%) have all felt the effects of the pandemic.

Small Business Prices’ research also identified the best employers for apprenticeships in the UK. RateMyApprenticeship analysed feedback from over 4,000 apprentices in 2018 to determine the best companies for apprenticeships. These include:

  1. MOTUS Commercials – Business
  2. BAE Systems – Engineering/ Manufacturing
  3. Mitchells & Butlers – Hospitality, Leisure and Tourism
  4. M&G – Insurance, Asset and Investment Management
  5. BT – IT & Consultancy

Ian Wright, Founder of Small Business Prices comments:

“Initial data released in July 2020 showed that apprenticeship starts had decreased by 50% compared with last year, but the final data set for 2020 showed a slightly less daunting figure at 46%. Despite the small uplift in apprenticeship starts, it is clear that the education landscape has been hit hard by COVID-19, with students now relying on virtual lessons and an on-screen relationship with teachers.

But even during the pandemic, apprenticeships are an amazing opportunity for so many young people for whom going to university isn’t the right choice. It’s vital that younger generations should not have to suffer because of this. Companies will need support and guidance, both financially and with regards to best practice, to encourage young people to take up apprenticeships again even while the pandemic situation remains uncertain.”