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:

Rank Industry Apprenticeship Starts (2018/19) Apprenticeship Completions (2018/19) Salary
1 Health & Social Care 58,286 29,658 £14,795.39
2 Engineering 20,960 8,575 £21,426.63
3 Administration 45,202 26,762 £15,252.93
4 Accounting & Finance 22,002 5,948 £14,496.94
5 Business Management 48,990 12,427 £18,267.58

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-May 2019) Apprenticeship starts (March-May 2020) Covid-19 difference
1 Health and
Social Care
14,926 7,439 7,487
2 Administration 9,834 3,879 5,955
3 Business
11,049 6,757 4,292
4 Child
5,943 2,561 3,382
5 Hospitality and
4,836 1,606 3,230
6 Manufacturing 3,744 1,278 2,466
7 Retailing and
2,932 1,099 1,833
8 Service
2,197 707 1,490
9 Accounting and
3,642 2,155 1,487
10 Engineering 2,028 845 1,183
Total 79,588 39,827 39,761

Overall, the number of apprenticeship starts between March and May in 2020 dropped by 50% (39,761) compared to the same period last year. Health and Social Care was the worst-hit industry, with 7,487 fewer starts in 2020 than 2019 (down 50%). But other industries have also seen a decline in apprenticeships: Administration (61%), Business Management (39%), and Child Development (57%) 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:

Not only are Universities becoming increasingly expensive, but due to Covid-19 the ‘traditional’ University experience has shifted. As a result, students may want to explore different career paths and this research aims to provide insight into the options available, to help students make informed decisions.

“But it’s also important to consider the drastic impact of the pandemic, as apprenticeship starts have decreased by 50% compared to last year. PM Boris Johnson has already stressed the importance of apprenticeships, with his pledge to offer an ‘opportunity guarantee’, promising young people opportunities for work. It’s important younger generations are not negatively impacted from this situation and companies are given appropriate support to ensure apprenticeship starts increase again.”