Young people will soon be able to use UCAS to search and apply for apprenticeships alongside degrees, the Department for Education has said.
The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service will expand its remit in autumn 2023 to show school leavers different education and training routes for their desired career path, and from 2024 they will be able to apply for apprenticeships alongside university degrees.
The DfE claimed that half of the people who register on UCAS say they would consider an apprenticeship, but there are currently not enough vacancies being advertised via the service; it lists some apprenticeship opportunities, but these are not given the same prominence as undergraduate degrees, and users are directed to the employer’s website to apply.
The DfE said that making apprenticeship options more prominent on UCAS would help put technical, vocational and academic education on equal footing, and allow employers access a wide variety of talent.
Over 1.5 million students use UCAS to access information on different training and education routes, potentially opening up a large talent pool for employers.
The government wants UCAS to become a “one-stop-shop” for young people to compare a range of occupations, training and education opportunities. It will show students the different routes into a single career destination, displaying undergraduate and apprenticeship routes side-by-side.
UCAS chief executive Clare Marchant said: “Presenting students with all their choices in one place will not only transform the apprenticeship offering but create real parity by putting these options side-by-side with undergraduate courses.
“Today’s announcement by the Department for Education shows the commitment to deliver a clear, accessible and joined-up service that will help students discover, decide and apply in one place, enabling them to achieve their future careers aspirations.”
Jane Hickie, chief executive of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers, said that accessing information about apprenticeships can be confusing and complicated.
“This could be a gamechanger, and alongside an enhanced talent finder function for employers, is much needed. It also shows how apprenticeships are a really valuable option for learners and employers alike,” she said.
“We would urge employers and training providers to work closely with UCAS to showcase the opportunities they have for potential learners to ensure this improved service becomes a real success.”
The Recruitment and Employment Confederation welcomed the idea in principle but said more work was needed to reform the apprenticeship system and broaden access.
Its director of campaigns Shazia Ejaz said: “We need to broaden the access to the money from the Apprenticeship Levy that businesses pay into. Employers need that to help them recruit in a time of huge labour and skills shortages.
“Today’s announcement does nothing to help temporary workers who are a crucial part of the UK jobs market and who are automatically cut off from valuable training opportunities because apprenticeships must last for at least 12 months. The current focus on year-long apprenticeships disadvantages many businesses trying to fill vacancies quickly and in areas such as hospitality or logistics where shorter courses would work just as well to meet employer needs which will then unlock growth in the economy.”
The news was welcomed by employers including Amazon, BAE Systems and Legal & General.
Amazon UK country manager John Boumphrey said: “One theme we often hear from current apprentices is the need to increase awareness of apprenticeships as a viable career path. We are clear on the benefits to both the apprentices, who earn and learn at the same time, as well as to employers, who gain access to incredible talent while shaping the skills needed for the future. Amazon is proud to support UCAS and the Department for Education this National Apprenticeship Week to promote these opportunities.”