Businesses scaled up their apprenticeship opportunities this year by 24%, but graduate vacancies increased by just two percent, reports the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR).
This marks a slowdown for graduate programmes compared to last year, when employers increased their graduate intake by 13%.
The number of internship vacancies has also increased this year, up by eight percent.
AGR Pulse Survey 2016
The AGR Pulse Survey 2016 gauged the recruitment ambitions of 86 large employers, representing more than 22,000 early talent vacancies.
It showed that engaging with students at a younger age is on the rise, providing alternative routes into some of the UK’s leading businesses.
While businesses are scaling up their apprenticeships, the survey also showed that graduates remain valuable and constitute the highest volume of early talent hires.
Thousands of opportunities
The employers surveyed 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.
This year apprentice hires represent one percent of AGR members’ workforces on average, compared to around two percent for graduates.
Stephen Isherwood, chief executive of the AGR, 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.”
More than half of the 22,000 early talent vacancies are still to be filled. The top three sectors with vacancies are IT, law and financial management.
Stephen added: “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.”