By Daniel Hunter

The Financial Skills Partnership has made a fresh call to businesses to offer apprenticeships as more people are applying for each position than ever.

This comes as figures reveal that there are now a record 11 applications being made for each apprenticeship vacancy in the UK. According to the National Apprenticeship Service, there were almost 370,000 applications for apprenticeships between February and April, while 32,600 vacancies were advertised in the same period.

Within the financial services industry, there has already been a positive reaction to vocational training and the number of apprenticeships developed and vacancies available has increased over recent years. However, there is still more that needs to be done, according to the Financial Skills Partnership, which is responsible for facilitating the employer-led standards upon which apprenticeships are based and approving apprenticeship frameworks in the sector.

“These figures show that there has been a positive reaction from young people to vocational routes into jobs. For sectors such as finance that haven’t been seen as traditional apprenticeship-based industries, the work that has been carried out to create awareness of apprenticeships has shown progress," Liz Field, CEO of Financial Skills Partnership, said.

"However, there is now an even bigger challenge to businesses to further embrace apprenticeships and roll them out in a way that better meets this increased demand. This does mean more apprenticeship places are needed and the focus should remain on quality of the apprenticeship offered by employers.”

The Financial Skills Partnership, whose role is to support employers in the finance, accounting and financial services sector in meeting their skills needs, has helped develop no less than six apprenticeship frameworks currently being used, with over 7,000 apprenticeships starting in 2011/2012 across the sector, spanning all disciplines from accounting, payroll, book-keeping and professional services to providing financial services, financial advice and mortgage advice.

FSP also received support from the Higher Apprenticeship Fund to help develop employer-led higher apprenticeship frameworks. It has helped develop a number of major programmes which have already commenced offering a variety of apprenticeships up to Level 4, and one to Level 7.

“Higher apprenticeships have been one area that has shown significant growth and they have opened many doors for more young people that have struggled to find ways into work beside traditional university routes," Liz added.

"We’re expecting that many more businesses will see the benefits of apprenticeships and as many firms will look to fuel the next chapter of growth, these enthusiastic young people who are bright, keen to learn and can be moulded into a company culture will be an ideal way to do this.”

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