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Apprenticeships: Are young people finally beginning to buy into the idea?

More than half of young people in England (54 per cent) would choose to do an apprenticeship if one were available, according to new research.

The number rises to 56 per cent of those already university students, and 66 per cent of those who are employed but not receiving training, according to the poll by ICM.

The findings will come as a relief to the government after recent figures showed the number of apprenticeship starters in the first nine months of 2012/13 was down by six per cent on the previous year, and down 18 per cent among 16-18-year-olds.

And a recent study found a lack of understanding and misconceptions about apprenticeships among parents.

Despite these apparent setbacks, skills minister Matthew Hancock claimed apprenticeships are “fast becoming the norm” for school leavers who want to earn while they learn.

With exam results out this week, he urged more young people to consider whether an apprenticeship could be the right option for them.

The Association of Employment and Learning Proviers, whose members deliver around 70 per cent of all apprenticeships in England, welcomed the findings.

A spokesman said: “The apprenticeship programme now covers jobs at entry level through to higher level management and technical roles across all sectors of the economy. 

“The academic route through A levels is no longer the only route to a degree level qualification and more young people will choose this route.

“It is important now to reinforce the successes of the programme and get even more employers, especially SMEs to make a commitment to training our young people in work’. 

David Way, executive director of the National Apprenticeship Service, said it saw a record number of applications for apprenticeships on A-level results day this time last year, and predicted the number could hit a new high this summer.

“Apprenticeships are a great option for school leavers and are now being seen as the first choice by many young people,” he said.

“We also want more employers to reap the benefits that apprenticeships have to offer by providing fantastic opportunities to young people.”

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