Five questions answered on apprenticeship application rises

Applications are up 32 per cent year on year.

The National Apprenticeship Service has said that its data shows online applications for apprenticeships have significantly increased. We answer five questions on this latest jobs data.

By how much have online applications for apprenticeships risen?

According to the data, applications are up by a third. Applications are up 32 per cent year on year, with over 1,403,920 applications made for vacancies in the past 12 months.

How many apprenticeships are there currently available?

National Apprenticeship Service says apprenticeships are popular with employees. It stated that close to 129,000 vacancies were posted online in 2012/13 compared to 101,000 in 2011/12, representing a growth of 27 per cent.

Demand is outstripping supply, but only marginally. There is an average of 11 applicants for each of the 129,000 vacancies posted online.

What are the most popular apprenticeships applied for?

Business and administration is the most popular, with 384,840 online applications made. Second is childcare with 102,450. Third is customer service, with 98,210 applications. Fourth is IT, Software, Web and Telecoms Professional, with 83,760, and fifth is vehicle maintenance and repair with 67,750.

What has the government said about these latest figures?

Skills Minister Matthew Hancock said: "We want to see it become the norm that young people either go to university or into an apprenticeship.

"To match the growing popularity of apprenticeships, I would urge more employers to consider how hiring an apprentice could benefit their business."

What has The National Apprenticeship Service said about the figures?

Jaine Bolton, Director of the National Apprenticeship Service said: "With such strong demand for Apprenticeships, it is vital that we encourage more employers to take advantage of the benefits that Apprenticeships bring. With dedicated support from the National Apprenticeship Service and the AGE 16-24 grant available to small and medium businesses, there really has never been a better time to recruit an Apprentice.

"86 per cent of apprentices stay in employment after their initial Apprenticeship finishes (vi), so it’s no surprise that more than half of young people would choose an Apprenticeship if one was available."

Photograph: Getty Images

Heidi Vella is a features writer for Nridigital.com

Jeremy Corbyn delivers a speech on the arts in north London on September 1, 2015. Photograph: Getty Images.
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Can Labour MPs force Corbyn to bring back shadow cabinet elections?

It is not up to the parliamentary party whether the contests are reintroduced. 

Soon after Jeremy Corbyn became the frontrunner in the Labour leadership contest, it was reported that he intended to bring back shadow cabinet elections. But as I later wrote, that's not the case. Corbyn has resolved that he will maintain the right to appoint his own team, rather than having it elected by MPs (as was the case before Ed Miliband changed the system in 2011). As he wrote in the NS: "Whoever emerges as leader on 12 September needs a shadow cabinet in place as soon as possible. I will appoint a strong, diverse shadow cabinet to hold this government to account from day one."

Now, ahead of his likely victory a week on Saturday, Corbyn is under pressure from some MPs to reverse his stance. Barry Sheerman, the former education select commitee chair, told me that he wanted a "serious discussion" within the PLP about the return of the elections. While some support their reinstatement on principled grounds, others recognise that there is a tactical advantage in Corbyn's opponents winning a mandate from MPs. His hand would be further weakened (he has the declared support of just 14 of his Commons colleagues). 

But their reinstatement is not as simple as some suggest. One senior MP told me that those demanding their return "had not read the rule book". Miliband's decision to scrap the elections was subsequently approved at party conference meaning that only this body can revive them. A simple majority of MPs is not enough. 

With Corbyn planning to have a new team in place as soon as possible after his election, there is little prospect of him proposing such upheaval at this point. Meanwhile, Chuka Umunna has attracted much attention by refusing to rule out joining the left-winger's shadow cabinet if he changes his stances on nuclear disarmament, Nato, the EU and taxation (a lengthy list). Umunna is unlikely to remain on the frontbench but having previously pledged not to serve, he now recognises that there is value in being seen to at least engage with Corbyn. Were he to simply adopt a stance of aggression, he would risk being blamed if the backbencher failed. It is one example of how the party's modernisers recognise they need to play a smarter game. I explore this subject further in my column in tomorrow's NS

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.