By Daniel Hunter

Former apprentices are outpacing their peers when it comes to being fit for the workplace, according to new figures.

The study by ICM Research reveals that employers in England rate qualified apprentices as 15 per cent more employable than those with other qualifications. Those who complete Higher Apprenticeships are the most desirable employees, with businesses rating this group as 25 per cent more employable than those who took an alternative route into work.

The figures come as the National Apprenticeship Service releases a new film and guide to the Higher Apprenticeships expected to be available to A-Level school leavers and existing apprentices and employees in 2013.

The full list, published on apprenticeships.org.uk, shows that Higher Apprenticeships will be available in a total of 41 subjects including Engineering Environmental Technologies, Interactive Media, Legal Services and Space Engineering and will offer young people a different route to degree-level qualifications than traditional university study.

One in six (15%) apprentices currently progresses to Higher Education following their Apprenticeship, either at a college or a university, but with Apprenticeships at Bachelor and Master degree levels also becoming available for the first time, the opportunities for degree level learning while young people earn have now been significantly expanded.

“We want Apprenticeships or University to become the new norm for young people leaving school and Higher Apprenticeships are an excellent way to enter high-profile careers while also achieving a degree-level qualification," Skills Minister Matthew Hancock said.

“We are releasing the online guide and film today to inspire young people to think about their futures and to help employers see how Higher Apprenticeships could benefit their business.”

Higher Apprenticeships are already a popular choice for both young people and current employees looking to progress in their careers, with 3,700 learners starting Higher Apprenticeships in England during the 2011/2012 academic year — representing growth of 68 per cent on the previous year.

This bodes well for young people’s future prospects, with recent reports estimating that completing a Level 4 Higher Apprenticeship could result in increased lifetime earnings of more than £150,000.

“Higher Apprenticeships are a great example of how Apprenticeships are changing to reflect the world of work and the even higher level skills needed by employers," David Way, Executive Director, National Apprenticeship Service said.

To explain what Higher Apprenticeships offer, a film of the recent PwC-sponsored Higher Apprenticeship recruitment fairs is also now available to view on apprentice.tv.

“We’re finding talent from wider sources than ever before. There’s no doubt in our mind that for talented students who are clear about their career path and want to get straight into work, Higher Apprenticeships offer a real opportunity that doesn’t compromise on training and development," Gaenor Bagley, head of people, PwC, said.

“We’ve recently launched the professional services industry’s first Higher Apprenticeship scheme, further cementing our commitment to widening access to the professions and have had fantastic interest from students.

"In total we recruited around 100 school leavers in 2012, including 31 Higher apprentices in London. In 2013, we plan to recruit to another 70 Higher Apprenticeships across the firm as part of our wider school leaver programme.”

Higher Apprenticeships, were introduced in 2009 to provide high level qualifications for apprentices and enable employers, colleges and universities to deliver the advanced skills most critical for growth. There are already a wide variety of Higher Apprenticeships to choose from — representing hundreds of job roles.

“We know that Apprenticeships deliver real business benefits for employers," David Way continued.

"Higher Apprenticeships also enable businesses to recruit from a wider talent pool and invest in their workforce in a proven way that will develop and deliver its full potential. At the same time, they can provide young people with a nationally recognised work-based route into professions that have traditionally been the preserve of graduates.”

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