The Rising Demand for Apprenticeships


20th April 2023

Read Time:

15 mins

Teen students are working together and taking notes in lesson time at school.

The Rising Demand for Apprenticeships

UCAS data show that 52% of those who apply to university would consider an apprenticeship, so there is clearly a strong demand for apprenticeships from students. Apprenticeship vacancies have risen 18% last year and every year since 2017 (the year of the levy), whereas graduate vacancies growth is not as strong and some years since 2017 it has shrunk.

The Advantages of Apprenticeships

At Connectr, we’re pleased to see more and more young people realising that there is more than one option to consider after school and that university isn’t the only path to success. Apprenticeships offer a huge range of benefits to students.

Offer Students Choice

Apprenticeships can be great for students less suited to the world of academia; those that are more practically minded, for instance.

When it comes to education, one size does not fit all, and it’s crucial that this is communicated to young people. The traditional educational route of GCSEs, A-Levels and a university degree isn’t for everyone, and apprenticeships can really break-up this conveyor belt mentality for students that won’t benefit from continuing on a rigid path that relies heavily on exam success.

Encourage Individuality and Entrepreneurism

Apprenticeships are also a good option for individual and disruptive thinkers. While university certainly encourages free-thinking within a subject area, a rigid approach to education risks stifling entrepreneurism and creativity.

All the fastest growing companies in the world are those that disrupt, not conform and apprenticeships nurture the kind of talent that will thrive in these settings.

Prepare Young People for the World of Work

There continues to be a debate about the purpose of education, is it to teach students about the subjects themselves or to prepare them for the world of work?  Whatever your views, it’s undeniable that, eventually, the majority of people will leave education and go out into the world of work.

Unlike students at university, apprentices are provided with real-life work experience while working towards a qualification, something that is invaluable to employers. Apprentices qualify equipped with a host of industry knowledge and experiences, enabling them to hit the ground running at work. This is particularly valuable for young people that have their eyes set firmly on the world of work in a specific sector.

Build an apprentice recruitment journey

We know from the Managed Service Recruitment solution we provide, focus on skills and attitude, not experience; make the roles easy to understand, and showcase the breath of previous hires you now have, will drive volumes and diversity of talent.

Support candidates at every stage of the recruitment process, set them up for success, or else withdrawal and fail rates will be higher, especially with the under-represented talent you have worked hard to attract.

At offer stage and beyond, invest in them by providing more information, give them access to existing apprentices, so that they feel confident, first, that they have made the right decision to accept your offer and second, feel excited and prepared for day 1.

And don’t forget your hiring and line managers, set them up for success as well; apprentices are different to graduates!

The Challenges that Remain

While the UCAS research shows a promising increase in the number of students considering apprenticeships, it is clear that challenges remain. Only 26% of students find it easy to source information about apprenticeships compared to 73% of the university option. 24% of teachers feel confident in supporting apprentice applications but 90% do for university. Shockingly, one in three state they did not receive any information at all about apprenticeships from their school or college.

The data clearly demonstrates that more still needs to be done to better inform all students & teachers about the options available to them, including apprenticeships. It is not good enough to simply send out the odd information pack in the post or over email. Students need to be properly engaged and offered the experiences and knowledge they need to make informed decisions about their future.

Another solution to broaden the apprentice applications

Hybrid Work Experience

One solution is offering hybrid work experience programme (a mix of in person and virtual, but still live). These are a fantastic way to provide students with deep insights into specific industries, the world of work and what apprenticeships will involve. Plus, they can be launched at scale, overcoming regional barriers and reaching young people who have previously missed out on these types of opportunities.

Key to hybrid work experience is that it aligns to the new Govt Guidance to schools on careers information advice and guidance, (which can be found here) where ‘live’ interactions with employers is a must.

At Connectr, we’ve worked with a host of employer partners to develop successful hybrid work experience programmes, including recent initiatives with Aon and Cisco which have yielded fantastic results, where students can engage with employees both in person and virtually.

For example with Cisco, the programme successfully inspired 72% of participants to pursue a career in technology after school.

A Final Word

There are solutions to ensuring that all young people leave school feeling empowered to choose the right path for them. However, it is critical that the Government and UK businesses work collaboratively to build on the progress already made to put alternative options, like apprenticeships, in the spotlight.

To find out more about Connectr, get in touch.