370,000 apprenticeship applications received in one quarter

The National Apprenticeship Service announced today that it received almost 370,000 applications for apprenticeship positions between February and April this year.

This figure represents a 32% rise compared to the same period in 2012. There was also a strong increase in the number of employers offering apprenticeship vacancies, with 32,600 vacancies posted between February and April.

The most popular apprenticeship, both in term of numbers of applicants and positions offered was Business and Administration.

The number of applications to apprenticeships in the engineering manufacturing and technology sector increased by over 10% for the period – up to 59520 from 53560 last year. Demand still outstrip supply to the sector however, with manufacturing and engineering employers posting  5446 apprentice vacancies – an increase of 22.6% on February to April in 2012.

The news of increased interest, both from potential trainees and from employer, in apprenticeship qualifications was welcomed by skills minister Matthew Hancock who said: “With more vacancies than ever before, Apprenticeships are fast becoming the norm for young people who want to achieve their career goals through an alternative route to University.”

He continued to say that even more employers should be offering apprenticeships and taking advantage of the support offered by the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS).

From today, these support services are to be augmented by two new tools to help employers understand the mechanisms and responsibilities involved in delivering apprenticeships. One is aimed at SME businesses, the other at large employers.

The two new kits; a small and medium sized employers guide to hiring an apprentice and a large employer toolkit to help set up apprenticeships in an organisation have been tailored in response the recommendations of the Holt Review of Apprenticeships which was published in the autumn of 2012,

Today the report’s author, entrepreneur Jason Holt said: “It is vital that we do more to demonstrate how all employers can grow their own workforce through Apprenticeships. For smaller businesses, this is even more crucial as apprentices help improve productivity while reducing costs.”

David Way, executive director of the NAS reminded SME leaders to take advantage of the £1,500 incentive for the employment of an apprentice. He also urged employers generally to approach NAS with their questions and concerns about supporting apprenticeship delivery and to make us of the new tool kits which together should “make it really easy for employers to hire an apprentice.”