Apprenticeship demand hits all-time high

Hundreds of thousands of students interested in becoming an apprentice can explore all their options in one place through UCAS’ new apprenticeships service, launching today (18 October).

Hundreds of thousands of students interested in becoming an apprentice can explore all their options in one place through UCAS’ new apprenticeships service, launching today (18 October).

From today, every applicant who logs into their UCAS student account, known as the UCAS Hub, will now see the most relevant apprenticeship opportunities for them alongside degree courses. Students will be able to search for an apprenticeship at any time throughout the year, as and when employers are hiring, with vacancies updated in real time.

It means applicants are now able to discover and decide between their options all in one place for the first time. And in 2024, students will be able to apply for apprenticeships within the UCAS Hub.

To mark the launch, UCAS is releasing new survey findings which reveal unprecedented demand for apprenticeship opportunities, with nearly three in five (59%) of young people in Years 9-12 considering an apprenticeship. Earning a wage is the main advantage for 42%, while learning new skills is the biggest benefit for 34%.

Yet survey respondents said they wanted more information about how much they will earn (39%), how to choose an apprenticeship (37%) and how the application process works (36%). UCAS’ new apprenticeships offering aims to help tackle the challenges would-be apprentices face in accessing this information and suitable roles.

It comes as new UCAS data shows record interest in apprenticeships over this year’s results period (13 – 31 August). Figures show the number of users searching for apprenticeships soared by 62.4% compared to the same point last year (81,023 in 2023 vs 49,881 in 2022) while views of apprenticeship roles increased by 85% (108,978 in 2023 vs 58,666 in 2022).

Currently, more than 40% of all UCAS undergraduate applicants are interested in an apprenticeship role – about half a million potential apprentices.

UCAS Chief Executive (Interim) Sander Kristel said: “The official launch of our new apprenticeship offering will revolutionise the way applicants discover and decide between their options. We are giving greater visibility to apprenticeships, making it easier for all students to explore vacancies in our mission to create parity of esteem with traditional undergraduate degrees.

“As we journey towards one million undergraduate applicants by the end of the decade, we can expect to see more applications to higher education and a more competitive landscape emerge. By enabling the visibility of both pathways, student will be able to explore all their options to make the best decision for their future career aspirations. Likewise, employers will be able to tap into a new future talent pipeline to meet their business needs and fill critical skills shortages.”

Minister for Skills, Apprenticeships and Higher Education Robert Halfon said: “Giving apprenticeships the same prestige as traditional university degrees is at the heart of my work as minister, so it is fantastic news that UCAS is officially launching this new service, marking a welcome step forward in achieving this ambition.

“We have been working hard with UCAS to ensure that students can compare the whole range of options open to them on the Hub for the first time. This has been one of my top priorities and I am thrilled that we will now be going even further by providing a pilot group of students with exclusive access to additional support designed for those interested in applying for apprenticeships through UCAS.

“It is great to see that over half of students in Years 9-12 are considering an apprenticeship, and I hope that this service will increase the uptake of apprenticeships. By doing this UCAS is representing Universities, Colleges, Apprenticeships and Skills and helping more people up the ladder of opportunity.”

Jennifer Coupland, chief executive of the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE), said: “This is another massive step forward for apprenticeships. We know that interest has never been higher and giving them equal billing, to conventional degrees, on the UCAS Hub will be a game changer for encouraging many more young people to apply and reap the benefits of earning and learning. The quality of apprenticeships has been transformed for the better and huge numbers of businesses are recruiting. This is a fantastic new way of connecting them with school leavers who are hungry to learn and climb the careers’ ladder.”

Top 10 keyword searches for apprenticeships

  1. Engineering
  2. Business
  3. Law
  4. Finance
  5. Accounting
  6. Marketing
  7. IT
  8. Nursing
  9. Sport
  10. Computer Science

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