Companies are employing more apprentices and fewer graduates, according to research released in the same month as National Apprenticeship Week.
A survey of large employers by the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) found that the number of apprenticeship opportunities offered by these firms has increased by 24% year-on-year, while graduate vacancies grew by just 2%.
This marks a slowing of graduate positions compared with last year, when employers in the survey increased their recruitment of university leavers by 13%.
This supports last year’s research by AllAboutSchoolLeavers, which showed that 78.3% of employers believe the volume of school and college leaver recruits (those who have not been to university) will outnumber the volume of graduate recruits within the next five years.
However, the survey of 86 UK businesses showed that despite slowing, graduates still make up the vast majority of post-study recruitment. This year showed the firms were looking to fill more than 14,000 graduate positions, plus 5,000 internships and 3,000 apprenticeships.
The AGR Pulse Survey 2016 surveyed 86 large employers, representing more than 22,000 early talent vacancies. It showed a rise in engagement with students at a younger age, providing alternative routes into some of the UK’s leading businesses.
The AGR said that while businesses are scaling up their apprenticeships, graduate recruits remain valuable and make up the highest volume of early talent hires. The employers surveyed said they are looking to fill more than 14,000 graduate positions this year as well as nearly 5,000 internships and more than 3,000 apprenticeships.
Stephen Isherwood, AGR chief executive, said: “Apprentice policy is driving many employers to ramp up their apprenticeships on a much larger scale than we’d anticipated. We don’t know what the long-term effects will be, but this isn’t a case of employers’ cannibalising their graduate schemes.
“We’re hearing that businesses view the two groups very separately and that they are complementary. Employers are engaging earlier and opening their doors to a wider group of people by presenting alternative options.
“It’s a candidate market at the moment and employers are finding it increasingly difficult to fill roles. We’re seeing nearly one in ten offers reneged as candidates pull out at the last minute for alternative positions.
“It’s not too late to apply for an intern, apprentice or graduate scheme, as there are still thousands of roles available.”