Government figures show the number of apprentices has grown exponentially since 2008. In total, there were 8,040 apprenticeship vacancies at the height of the recession in 2008/2009. In comparison, there were 128,790 in 2012/2013. Clearly this is good news for prospective employees who are hoping to gain entry into the workplace. When you break the figures down by type, it is interesting to note that the greatest number of apprenticeship opportunities came from business, administration and law.
Some sectors more popular than others
In 2008/2009, over a quarter (2,360) of schemes were from these sectors, and they accounted for the largest percentage of placements (59,610) in 2012/2013. Apprenticeships from the engineering and manufacturing technologies sector were the second most popular with 2,330 work experience placements offered out in 2008/2009. In 2012/2013 this sector gave out 16,760 schemes taking it into third place.
Retail became the second largest employer of apprentices in 2012/2013 giving out 24,660 positions. Health, public services and care sectors gave out 14,700 apprenticeships in 2012/2013. The fact that some sectors offer more opportunities than others is arguably a reflection of their popularity. In other words, supply is directly related to demand. When you take on an apprenticeship in business, for instance, it is a relatively broad sector and so opens up opportunities to many different career paths.
Sometimes it is difficult to know what you want to specialise in when you leave school, and gaining training in an area like business will give you experience and scope to explore different possibilities. It should also ultimately help focus your mind on what specific area you want to work in.
Likewise, retail is a popular sector. It is a very fast-paced industry, which makes it exciting as companies have to predict what customers want both now and in the future. There are a multitude of roles within retail and you could find yourself working as a merchandiser, buyer, or even designer if you get a foot in the door with an apprenticeship in this field.
Other opportunities in Marketing and PR could arise from working in this sector and these are transferable skills, so it would not be impossible to move to something different if you decided it wasn’t for you. Working in the public services sector can give you a great sense of achievement that you are doing something to help those more vulnerable in society.
People skills are vital if you choose to opt for youth work or social care and these can be very rewarding careers. Apprenticeships are great for this sector because it gives you a real feel for the job and an opportunity to see if this is where you want to invest your time.
More money for apprenticeships
In his Budget speech on March 19th, Chancellor George Osborne announced the government would be putting another £170 million to help more companies sign up for the Apprenticeship Grant for Employers (AGE) scheme.
Those businesses that have not had an apprentice in the last 12 months can apply to receive £1,500 for each apprentice they take on, with a limit of ten per company. Both the government and businesses themselves are beginning to realise apprenticeships work, so why not take one up and see for yourself.