The provisional data, published yesterday, shows that in the first nine months of the 2011/12 academic year (August 2011 to April 2012) 383,200 people started an apprenticeship.
The government says apprenticeship starts rose across all regions of the country and at all levels, with particularly strong growth at advanced and higher levels.
The data also showed higher levels of learners on Skills for Life courses to improve their basic skills, with 1,374,200 participating during the first three quarters of the 2011/12 academic year.
Skills minister John Hayes said: “The growth in apprenticeships is really welcome news. The Government has put apprenticeships at the heart of our skills policy because they equip people with the skills they need for a prosperous future and provide businesses with the expertise they need to grow.
“As we look to rebalance our economy, it is particularly encouraging to see an increase in the number of apprentices in the engineering and manufacturing sector.
“At the same time as increasing the number of apprenticeships, I have been relentless in my commitment to quality – striving to ensure that every apprenticeship is as good as the best.”