The number of young people taking apprenticeships fell last year, according to official statistics released by the Department of Education and Skills. The number of basic apprenticeships, equivalent to GCSEs, declined by 12 per cent, from 159,500 in January 2006 to 140,100 in January this year. Advanced apprenticeships, mandatory for supervisors and managers, fell by 4.2 per cent to 96,200 over the same period. The figures continue the long-term trend that has seen advanced apprenticeship numbers decline by 53 per cent since January 2001. Official figures showed that engineering and manufacturing technologies were the most popular areas of work-based learning, accounting for 25 per cent of all apprenticeships. Apprenticeships in construction, the built environment and planning accounted for 16 per cent of that number.