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

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Owen Smith is naïve if he thinks misogynist abuse in Labour started with Jeremy Corbyn

“We didn’t have this sort of abuse before Jeremy Corbyn became the leader.”

Owen Smith, the MP challenging Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour leadership contest, has told BBC News that the party’s nastier side is a result of its leader.

He said:

“I think Jeremy should take a little more responsibility for what’s going on in the Labour party. After all, we didn’t have this sort of abuse and intolerance, misogyny, antisemitism in the Labour party before Jeremy Corbyn became the leader.

“It’s now become something that is being talked about on television, on radio, and in newspapers. And Angela is right, it has been effectively licenced within the last nine months.

“We’re the Labour party. We’ve got to be about fairness, and tolerance, and equality. It’s in our DNA. So for us to be reduced to this infighting is awful. Now, I understand why people feel passionately about the future of our party – I feel passionately about that. I feel we’re in danger of splitting and being destroyed.

“But we can’t tolerate it. And it isn’t good enough for Jeremy simply to say he has threats too. Well, I’ve had death threats, I’ve had threats too, but I’m telling him, it’s got to be stamped out. We’ve got to have zero tolerance of this in the Labour party.”

While Smith’s conclusion is correct, his analysis is worryingly wrong.

Whether it is out of incompetence or an unwillingness to see the extent of the situation, Corbyn has done very little to stamp out abuse in his party, which has thus been allowed to escalate. It is fair enough of Smith to criticise him for his failure to stem the flow and punish the perpetrators.

It is also reasonable to condemn Corbyn's inability to stop allies like Chancellor John McDonnell and Unite leader Len McCluskey using violent language (“lynch mob”, “fucking useless”, etc) about their opponents, which feeds into the aggressive atmosphere. Though, as I’ve written before, Labour politicians on all sides have a duty to watch their words.

But it’s when we see how Smith came to the point of urging Corbyn to take more responsibility that we should worry. Smith confidently argues that there wasn’t “this sort of abuse and intolerance, misogyny, antisemitism” in the party before Corbyn was voted in. (I assume when he says “this sort”, he means online, death threats, letters, and abuse at protests. The sort that has been high-profile recently).

This is naïve. Anyone involved in Labour politics – or anything close to it – for longer than Corbyn’s leadership could tell Smith that misogyny and antisemitism have been around for a pretty long time. Perhaps because Smith isn’t the prime target, he hasn’t been paying close enough attention. Sexism wasn’t just invented nine months ago, and we shouldn’t let the belief set in that it did – then it simply becomes a useful tool for Corbyn’s detractors to bash him with, rather than a longstanding, structural problem to solve.

Smith's lament that “it’s now become something that is being talked about” is also jarring. Isnt it a good thing that such abuse is now being called out so publicly, and closely scrutinised by the media?

In my eyes, this is a bit like the argument that Corbyn has lost Labour’s heartlands. No, he hasn’t. They have been slowly slipping away for years – and we all noticed when Labour took a beating in the last general election (way before Corbyn had anything to do with the Labour leadership). As with the abuse, Corbyn hasn’t done much to address this, and his inaction has therefore exacerbated it. But if we tell ourselves that it started with him, then we’re grasping for a very, very simple solution (remove Corbyn = automatic win in the North, and immediate erasure of misogyny and antisemitism) to a problem we have catastrophically failed to analyse.

Anoosh Chakelian is deputy web editor at the New Statesman.