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Apprenticeships predicted to grow 59 percent this year

Article by: Stephen Isherwood | Published: 16 June 2017

Employers are significantly scaling-up their apprenticeship programmes in 2017 with hiring expected to increase by 59 percent, reports the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR).

The Apprenticeships Survey1 launches today (6 June 2017) as part of the AGR Annual Student Recruitment Conference. It shows that 83 percent of student employers have apprenticeship programmes this year and they expect to hire at least 12,281 apprentices. This is an increase of 4,581 apprentices compared to 2016. Intermediate level apprenticeships make up the largest share of programmes by volume (4,492) followed by advanced apprenticeships (3,967) and higher apprenticeships (3,320). Intermediate apprenticeships are also expected to increase at the fastest rate this year (287 percent)2.

The largest volumes of apprenticeships are in IT/telecoms and banking, while the highest growth rates are in IT/telecoms and retail. All of the employers taking part in the survey are paying the Apprenticeship Levy. On average, they expect to use 33 percent of Levy funds to recruit new apprentices this year. Half of the respondents are starting programmes as a result of the Levy with some using the funds to up-skill existing staff instead. More than half (58 percent) of employers said that managing their organisational response to the Levy is one of their biggest challenges this year. A further 23 percent said that a lack of government-approved apprenticeship standards in their sector is one of their top issues.

In terms of entry requirements, 79 percent of employers require A-levels for higher apprenticeships. Five or more GCSEs at grade C or above are required for 46 percent of intermediate programmes and 67 percent of advanced schemes. In 2016, intermediate level apprenticeships were used by the highest share of student employers and paid a median starting salary of £14,000. Salaries for graduate programmes are typically £27,500, which is more than one and a half times the median starting salary for the highest level of apprenticeship (£16,000).

There appears to be strong demand for quality student talent with 74 percent of employers confirming that their apprenticeships will not impact graduate hiring this year. An annual intake of apprentices is typically 1 percent of the workforce while an annual intake of graduates is typically 1.9 percent. Stephen Isherwood, Chief Executive at the AGR said: “Demand for apprentices is rising fast, particularly in light of the Levy. Employers, universities and schools are going to need to collaborate to make sure students understand all of the opportunities open to them.”