A record number of people are applying for apprenticeships, with up to 17 per vacancy in London, new figures have shown.
Almost 370,000 applications were made online in the quarter to April, an increase of a third compared to the same time last year. A record number of vacancies (over 32,600) were also reported.
In particular, in the Engineering and Manufacturing Technology sector, the number of apprenticeship applications has increased by over 10 per cent in the period between February and April 2013 compared to the same period last year. The number of applications made rose from 53650 to 59520. The number of positions available increased even more – by 22.57 per cent, from 4443 up to 5446 positions. The application to vacancy ratio therefore fell to 10.93 compared to the previous 12.08.
Matthew Hancock MP, Skills Minister, 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. We want more employers to take advantage of the advice and support available from the National Apprenticeship Service and consider how hiring an apprentice could benefit their business."
The National Apprenticeship Service said the most competition was in London, with 17 applications per vacancy, with arts, media and publishing being the most competitive sector.
Shadow skills Minister Gordon Marsden underlined the importance of apprenticeship schemes as a means of tackling youth unemployment: "At a time when there are almost one million young people out of work, creating new quality apprenticeships was a key test for David Cameron".
According to Business Secretary Vince Cable the newly released figures presented a proof of the progress that had been made in raising the status of vocational skills and putting them on a par with academic achievement. "Over the last two years we have almost doubled the number of apprenticeships. However we still need to do more to help young people get on which is why we have introduced a £1,500 incentive for small businesses who take on an apprentice aged 16-24."
The £1,500 incentive is a part of a new tool launched today by the National Apprenticeship Service that aims at small and medium sized enterprises, encouraging them to hiring an apprentice.
“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,” said entrepreneur James Holt
To help large organisations start apprenticeship schemes, the National Apprenticeship Service has set up the large employer toolkit.