trainingAccording to new figures released today (31 May) by the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS), almost 370,000 apprenticeship applications were submitted between February and April 2013, which it says represents growth of over 32%, when compared to the same period last year.

It also revealed that apprenticeship vacancies increased by 15% to almost 33,000, and on 26 April there were 17,700 live vacancies available online.

Commenting on the figures, 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 figures also showed that business and administration apprenticeships were the most popular, with more than 100,000 applications for around 7,000 vacancies, while plumbing and heating was the most competitive field, with an average of 41 applicants for every vacancy.

According to the findings, London recorded the biggest growth in the number of online apprenticeships advertised, with 4,210 vacancies posted by employers, a year on year increase of more than 29%.

London also had the most competition for each online vacancy, with potential apprentices submitting almost 74,000 applications – an average of 17 applications for every job.

David Way, Executive Director of the National Apprenticeship Service, said:

“These figures show that the popularity of apprenticeships continues to rise and in a greater range of occupations than before. The increase in vacancies shows that more and more individuals are seeing apprenticeships as a great way to start out in their chosen career. Employers increasingly recognise that hiring apprentices is a great way of attracting new talent and developing a motivated, skilled and diverse workforce.”

In response to Jason Holt’s Review of Apprenticeships, two new guides to hiring an apprentice have been developed and are designed to encourage employers to take on an apprentice.

Through, employers can access:

A small and medium sized employers guide to hiring an apprentice
A large employer toolkit to help set up Apprenticeships in an organisation

Jason Holt, entrepreneur and author of the Holt Review, 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 added:

“The National Apprenticeship Service aims to make it really easy for employers to hire an apprentice. The launch of these new online employer tools will further enhance the service we already offer employers – whatever their size and whatever their needs. For SMEs there is also the added incentive of £1,500, to assist them in the recruitment of apprentices.”