October 27, 2011

Apprentice numbers double; university applications fall

by Jan Harris

There was an increase of more than 50 per cent in the number of people starting apprenticeships in England between August 2010 and July 2011.

While 279,000 people started apprenticeships in the 2009/10 academic year, in 2010/11 this figure had grown to 442,700.

Apprenticeships in manufacturing, engineering, construction, health and public services all grew in popularity.

In July, the government launched a £25m fund to help businesses, especially SMEs, provide up to 10,000 advanced and degree-level apprenticeships in areas where there are skills shortages.

Total funding for apprenticeships in 2011/12 has been increased to more than £1.4 billion.

Business secretary Vince Cable said: “By helping firms build a stronger skills base, this investment puts businesses on solid foundations to deliver sustainable growth and a more balanced and inclusive economy.

With the cost of a university education soaring, it seems that more people are turning to apprenticeships as an alternative.

According to preliminary figures from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), university applications for 2012 have fallen by 9 per cent.

When overseas applications are excluded, the figures show that applications from UK students have fallen by 12 per cent.

Although the deadline for many courses is January, these early figures could be a strong indication that the sharp rise if fees is deterring many students from considering university as an affordable option.

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