Employers looking for apprentices are set to meet significant demand as UCAS data shows the number of those searching for apprenticeships soared by more than 62 percent this year.

This surge in demand has culminated in the launch of a new apprenticeship service by UCAS.

The new service will allow employers to advertise apprenticeships directly to potential applicants on the UCAS Hub, whilst the next generation of professionals can then simultaneously search, see, and learn about educational pathways into individual sectors – whether that’s an apprenticeship or a relevant degree course.

The launch of this apprenticeship service comes at a time when the UK faces a widely reported digital skills gap across several professions.

Employers such as Virgin Media and Thales are among businesses already working with UCAS on apprenticeship schemes to attract the best talent, fill skills gaps, and meet EDI commitments.

Demand for apprenticeships has increased year on year according to UCAS data. Users searching for apprenticeships soared by 62.4 percent compared to the same point last year (81,023 in 2023 vs 49,881 in 2022) while views of apprenticeship roles increased by 85 percent (108,978 in 2023 vs 58,666 in 2022).

A huge demand

Currently, more than 40 percent of all UCAS undergraduate applicants are interested in an apprenticeship role – about half a million potential apprentices. Sectors including Engineering, Business, Law, IT, and Accounting have made it into the Top 10 keyword searches by potential applicants.

Further research findings released by UCAS last week, indicate that demand for apprenticeships is set to continue in this upward trend as 59 percent of young people in Years 9 to 12 are now considering an apprenticeship to kickstart their future career. The opportunity to ‘earn and learn’ was seen by 42 percent of respondents as a deciding factor for choosing the apprenticeship route.

The new service will also allow applicants to search for an apprenticeship at any time throughout the year, as and when employers are hiring, with vacancies updated in real-time.

UCAS Chief Executive (Interim) Sander Kristel said:

“The official launch of our new apprenticeship offering will revolutionise the way applicants discover and decide between their options. We are giving greater visibility to apprenticeships, making it easier for all students to explore vacancies in our mission to create parity of esteem with traditional undergraduate degrees.

“As we journey towards one million undergraduate applicants by the end of the decade, we can expect to see more applications to higher education and a more competitive landscape emerge. By enabling the visibility of both pathways, students will be able to explore all their options to make the best decision for their future career aspirations. Likewise, employers will be able to tap into a new future talent pipeline to meet their business needs and fill critical skills shortages.”

Minister for Skills, Apprenticeships and Higher Education Robert Halfon said: “Giving apprenticeships the same prestige as traditional university degrees is at the heart of my work as minister, so it is fantastic news that UCAS is officially launching this new service, marking a welcome step forward in achieving this ambition.

“We have been working hard with UCAS to ensure that students can compare the whole range of options open to them on the Hub for the first time. This has been one of my top priorities, and I am thrilled that we will now be going even further by providing a pilot group of students with exclusive access to additional support designed for those interested in applying for apprenticeships through UCAS.

“It is great to see that over half of students in Years 9-12 are considering an apprenticeship, and I hope that this service will increase the uptake of apprenticeships. By doing this UCAS is representing Universities, Colleges, Apprenticeships, and Skills and helping more people up the ladder of opportunity.”

Jennifer Coupland, chief executive of the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE), said: “This is another massive step forward for apprenticeships. We know that interest has never been higher and giving them equal billing, to conventional degrees, on the UCAS Hub will be a game changer for encouraging many more young people to apply and reap the benefits of earning and learning.

“The quality of apprenticeships has been transformed for the better and huge numbers of businesses are recruiting. This is a fantastic new way of connecting them with school leavers who are hungry to learn and climb the careers ladder.”

Top 10 keyword searches for apprenticeships:

  1. Engineering
  2. Business
  3. Law
  4. Finance
  5. Accounting
  6. Marketing
  7. IT
  8. Nursing
  9. Sport
  10. Computer Science






Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.