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Apprenticeship schemes up a third on last year

The number of young people applying for apprenticeship schemes is expected to rise to a new high this summer. Figures published by the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) reveal there are now 20,000 apprenticeships available online, up from 15,000 in August last year.

The figures also show more than two thirds of employers (71 per cent) would recommend young people to do an apprenticeship. And faced with university tuition fees, more than half of young people in England (54 per cent) would like to do an apprenticeship if it was available.

The newly available apprenticeships include extra opportunities in engineering, which has been identified by the Government as a high-growth industry. Growing awareness of climate change and responses such as the Green Deal mean that environmental engineering will be of particular importance to the UK economy.

Skills Minister Matthew Hancock 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 increasing popularity of apprenticeships among young people comes after business research showed that employers find apprentices 15 per cent more employable than young people with other qualifications.

The skills organisation Semta has urged parents to put aside prejudice about apprenticeships, arguing it is hindering the flow of students into vocational training. It claims many parents are 'squeamish' about a vocational route because of 'the long-held belief that university is the only way to go and get a decent education'.

Earlier this year Government announced it would offer SMEs grants of £1,500 to take on 16 to 24 year olds as an apprentice.

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