General Election 2015David Cameron has made agreements with big businesses to create 16,000 new apprenticeships immediately if he is re-elected in May, he announced this week.

Businesses include Costa Coffee and Supermarket chain Morrisons which have both signed agreements to train thousands of apprentices each. The former prime minister’s promise is to create three million more apprenticeships over the next five years to tackle youth unemployment.

Cameron said:

“We want Apprenticeships to be level-pegging with a University degree giving millions more people the dignity of work and a regular pay packet. We’ve already created 2.2 million Apprenticeships since 2010 but a future Conservative government is committed to opening up 3 million more high quality apprenticeships – to help strengthen our economy and communities and give millions more people financial security.”

Starbucks announced last month they reached their annual target of 1,000 apprenticeships by the end of 2014. Lisa Robbins, director of partner resources for Starbucks UK believes that more businesses backing the apprenticeship route is key to youth employment and development.

She said:

“The Starbucks Apprenticeship programme launched in the UK in Spring 2012, offering young people a start on the ladder of a retail management career and the opportunity to build the transferable skills needed to further their careers. It’s great to see other high street businesses getting involved today by pledging to train thousands of young people.

“With 21 graduated apprentices now store managers, it has proved to us that apprenticeships for young people are a genuine alternative to academic study and a real path to a retail career. At Starbucks we will continue to welcome even more apprentices in 2015, and are exploring the possibility of implementing training that reaches a Level 5 qualification – equivalent to a foundation degree.”

Jobsite recently conducted research into apprenticeship misconceptions in the UK. They claim that although the announcement is great news for youth unemployment, it will also further increase age misconceptions around applying for apprenticeship opportunities.

The study found that 56 percent of people haven’t even considered an apprenticeship as a viable career option and 75 percent believe the positions are solely aimed at 17 to 21 year olds. 48 percent also think that there is an age limit to applying for roles.

Only one in ten aged between 40 to 60 would consider an apprenticeship compared to a third of those aged between 16 to 24. 89 percent of people aged 40 to 60 years think apprenticeships available are aimed at 17 to 24 year olds, rather than their age group.

However, the research does reveal that older workers would consider an apprenticeship if they felt the positions were available to them and 46 percent said they would consider one as part of a career change.