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Record numbers of school leavers expected to apply for apprenticeship schemes

The number of young people expected to apply for an apprenticeship scheme is expected to hit a new high this summer.

According to figures published from the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS), there are now 20,000 apprenticeships available online, up from 15,000 in August last year.

NAS figures also show more than half (71%) of employers would recommend young people to do an apprenticeship.

And as A-Level results are opened, more than half (54%) of young people in England would like to do an apprenticeship if it was available.

"Apprenticeships are ideal for A-Level achievers who want to progress onto further learning, but also want to get a foot on the career ladder at the same time," said NAS executive director David Way.

"Higher apprentices have the opportunity to gain degree-level equivalent qualifications at the same time as being in paid employment."

Changing perceptions

Technology firm Capgemini head of talent Anouska Ramsay said schools and employers could do more to promote apprenticeships although perceptions are changing.

"The prejudice around apprenticeships still exists but it's beginning to change, and the increasing trend of young people choosing apprenticeships will continue," Ramsay told HR magazine.

Ramsay, who leads the apprenticeship schemes at Capgemini, said it has increased places over the past few years, while the number of graduate placements at the company has "remained constant" over the same period.

"The schemes are becoming more aligned to traditionally graduate-dominated professions such as IT and law," Ramsay said.

"With apprenticeship schemes you are able to capture the most talented, creative and innovative young people early."

The 'new norm'

The skills organisation Semta has urged parents to put aside their prejudice, arguing it is hindering the flow of students into vocational training.

"Pupils are passing A-levels only to be let down when their parents fail the big test," chief executive Sarah Sillars said.

She 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".

Skills minister Matthew Hancock said apprenticeships are now becoming "the new norm" for young people.

He said young people are recognising their career goals can still be reached by finding an "alternative route to university".

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