today, Stewart Segal, chief executive of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP), argues that raising awareness of apprenticeships is helpful but will not be enough. "Without the follow-up from training providers talking directly to employers and the encouragement of learners to explain the benefits of training, the advertising will have little impact," he says.
Mr Segal warns that although the message is positive, there is a "real risk" that announcements about new apprenticeship standards will give the impression that the existing apprenticeship frameworks are not supported by employers, when the opposite is true. "The apprenticeship changes must be promoted as building on the success, not fixing a problem," he adds.
Although the government wants as many businesses as possible to take on apprentices, it estimates that only 9 per cent of employers are involved in the programme at present.
However, research for National Apprenticeship Week in March found that almost half (44 per cent) of businesses planned to take on apprentices in the next five years, compared with 36 per cent of respondents at the same time last year.
But the AELP believes that uptake by employers is "much higher" than the government figures suggest because some who do not currently have an apprentice may have employed one in the past year or two. In his article, Mr Segal says that the number of apprentices can be increased but that it is not realistic to expect all businesses to take one on.
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said that the number of higher apprenticeships had grown rapidly, from 5,700 in 2011-12 to 13,000 in 2012-13. It has also committed pound;40 million to support an additional 20,000 starts by the end of this academic year.
"A university degree and apprenticeship is a different but equally valid choice and we want every young person to be able to choose the educational route that is right for them," a spokeswoman said. "There have been over 1.8 million apprenticeship starts since May 2010 and we are on course to reach our 2 million target within this Parliament.
"The government has recently joined forces with top employers to launch a new apprenticeship campaign that features some of the many success stories which show exactly how far an apprenticeship can take you."