Apprenticeships attract record demand in the UK employment market

Demand for apprenticeships has soared in recent months, with the number of vacancies also on the rise, according to new figures.

The latest data released by the National Apprenticeship Service shows that almost 370,000 apprenticeship applications were submitted online between February and April this year - up 32% compared to the same period in 2012.

There was also a year-on-year increase of nearly 15% in the number of apprenticeship vacancies, with over 32,600 advertised online in the three months.

A total of 17,700 live vacancies were available online on April 26 - the highest number recorded at any one time.

Vehicle sales is the fastest growing apprenticeship sector, in terms of the percentage increase in vacancies advertised online, with a year-on-year jump of 916%.

Other apprenticeships growing at an accelerated rate relate to the power industry (840%), clinical healthcare support (608%), advanced engineering construction (428%), and leisure management (425%).

Arts, media and publishing and information communication technology were the most competitive sectors to apply for, with over 17 applications per vacancy.

Meanwhile, plumbing and heating, bus and coach engineering, animal care, health pharmacy services, and construction specialists were the most competitive individual subjects to apply for.

"These figures show that the popularity of apprenticeships continues to rise and in a greater range of occupations than before," said David Way, executive director of the National Apprenticeship Service.

"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."

Over 52,000 hopeful apprentices have already watched the 'How to Apply for an Apprenticeship' film, recently launched by the National Apprenticeship Service.

A further 5,000 have also taken advantage of the new Av Search app for iPhone and Android, which the service released in February.

Skills Minister Matthew Hancock claims apprenticeships are fast becoming the norm for young people who want to achieve their career goals through an alternative route, rather than going to university.

He called on 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.

Copyright Press Association 2013