More than 1 million applications for apprenticeships were submitted in 2012, far more than the number of vacancies available.
According to the National Apprenticeship Service, 1.13m applications were received through its online database, with about 106,000 vacancies advertised, some 80% of the total apprenticeships available across the country.
In February the government made funding available to help businesses take on apprentices, a grant open to companies employing up to 1,000 people who have never taken an apprentice or have not recruited one in the previous 12 months.
David Way, chief executive of the NAS, said: “The high number of applications generated in 2012 is further evidence of just how popular apprenticeships have become. The quality training on offer means apprenticeships are fast becoming a first-choice career option for a wide range of people.
“In 2013 we hope to see further growth in the number of new vacancies registered online and an increase in the number of apprenticeships available in key industry sectors such as the digital and creative industries, engineering and IT. We would like to help even more employers use apprenticeships to recruit new staff and are encouraging them to find out more about the funding available.”
The business and administration sector was the most popular for both applications and available vacancies, while London had more applications than other regions, followed by the West Midlands and Greater Manchester. The gender split showed males applied for 56% of the vacancies.
Last week the government announced the introduction of a new range of apprenticeships equivalent to bachelors and masters degrees in subjects including law and accountancy. The skills minister, Matthew Hancock, said: “In the past, apprenticeships were restricted to only some trades, and some parts of the economy. Now we are introducing apprenticeships in all types of jobs, including a new route to the professions, to ensure everyone can reach their potential.”