The number of started ICT apprenticeships declined by 6.3 per cent in 2016/17, according to research by SJD Accountancy.
The data, obtained from the Education and Skills Funding Agency, indicates that the number of people starting ICT apprenticeships has declined to the lowest level in two years.
In 2016/17, 15,010 people started ICT apprenticeships, down from 16,020 in 2015/16.
The number of people starting ICT apprenticeships is still well below the 2011/12 peak of 18,520 workers.
According to SJD Accountancy, typically under two thirds of ICT apprentices finish the course with a qualification. Some 9,410 people completed an ICT apprenticeship in 2016/17, down from 9,630 in 2015/16.
"The number of people starting ICT apprenticeships was recovering from its 2013/14 trough but the impact of the new apprenticeship levy and obligations on smaller employers to meet some of the training costs has clearly discouraged the use of apprentices," said Derek Kelly, CEO of SJD Accountancy.
"The question is whether the initial drop-off in the number of ICT apprentices will bounce back, or whether we will see further falls as employers invest in upskilling existing staff instead."
Kelly said the UK has suffered from a chronic underproduction of tech skills, which has made it increasingly reliant on foreign talent to plug skills gaps.
"With the UK leaving the EU, that model is under threat, which makes indigenous skills and training more important than ever for the growth of the UK tech sector," he said.
"Demand for tech skills is forecast to grow twice as fast as the UK average over the next few years, so increasing the talent pipeline will be vital to meeting that demand.
"Apprenticeships are a key component of that pipeline, but in places such as London where demand for tech skills is particularly robust, apprenticeships places are extremely hard to come by."
SJD Accountancy said it is vital that the government adequately incentivises employers to create apprenticeships so that the UK can reduce its growing reliance on non-EU IT professionals.
The number of IT professionals coming to the UK from outside the EU to address skill shortages is at a record high, having increased by more than 50 per cent since 2012, from 23,960 in 2012 to 36,015 in 2016.
"If there are restrictions on hiring EU workers post-Brexit, it will become increasingly important for the UK to nurture its own IT talent," said Kelly.
"We don't yet know how easy or difficult it will be to bring in non-EU IT skills post-Brexit but with the government committed to bringing down immigration, organisations which use IT skills will likely have to place greater emphasis on skills and training."
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