Data from the National Apprenticeships Service has revealed that online apprenticeship applications have risen by 32% in the last 12 months but engineering and manufacturing courses are not among the most popular.

ver 1.4 million people applied for an apprenticeship vacancy in the last twelve months for 129,000 posted vacancies according to the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS)

Just 101,000 vacancies were posted in 2011/2012 by comparison. This means there is now a ratio of around 11:1 applications to vacancies and Matthew Hancock, skills minister, has urged more employers to establish schemes at their companies.

“Research out last week showed that more than 70 per cent of employers say apprentices boosted their service or product,” he said. “This is testament to the benefits of Apprenticeships for both young people and the wider economy.”

Those employers that do support apprenticeships showed that they are demanding more of their investment via a big increase in advertised vacancies for Higher and Advanced Apprenticeships. The former displayed a 172% increase and the latter 51%.

Manufacturing and engineering apprenticeships failed to make it into the top five most popular courses in the last year.

These were:

1. Business and Administration (384,840 online applications made). (Position in 2011/12 – 1)

2. Children and Young People’s Workforce (Childcare) (102,450) (2)

3. Customer Service (98,210) (3)

4. IT, Software, Web and Telecoms Professional (83,760) (5)

5. Vehicle Maintenance and Repair (67,750) (4)

Nor did engineering and manufacturing disciplines appear among the fastest growing apprenticeship courses – though vehicle sales did see a 500% rise in applications, reflecting the resurgent productivity of the UK’s automotive sector.