Apprenticeships should be allocated Ucas points by the end of the year to help more students progress to university, the Skills Commission said on Wednesday.
In a report examining how to protect the quality of apprenticeships while doubling numbers, the commission said more should be done to make them a route to degree-level skills.
The Skills Commission, an independent group of experts in vocational learning funded by the Edge foundation, said that as well as speeding up Ucas accreditation, more part-time HE courses were needed. It said universities needed to adapt to the requirements of former apprentices, and that bridging courses to help them adapt to higher education, for example, on essay writing, should be provided.
Barry Sheerman, co-chair of the commission and chairman of the Commons select committee for schools, said: "A vocational education is better than an academic education for many people.
"At the same time, people have very different needs. If they get to 17, 21 or 27 and decide they want a different kind of further or higher education, it should be available. We have too many barriers."
Funding for young apprenticeships should be ring-fenced to meet demand, the commission recommended, and apprentices should be given a "right to resume" training as an advanced apprentice as soon as a suitable job role became available.
The commission also called for teacher training to include information on apprenticeships, after a survey indicated widespread ignorance about them in schools.
In a YouGov poll of 1,000 teachers, commissioned by Edge, 56 per cent said they had a poor understanding of apprenticeships, and nearly a quarter believed they were not a good alternative to A-levels.