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Blog: apprentice trends

ISE Blogs


Apprentice reneges, declines and 2018 trends


Given 44% of ISE employers open their recruitment campaigns for apprentices between January and April, Samuel Gordon, ISE Research Analyst, explores key trends that are worth paying attention to.



Data is based on the Student Recruitment Pulse Survey, which had 103 responses from ISE members who offered 12,994 graduate roles and 4,937 apprenticeships in 2017.


Market overview 

ISE members are predicting strong growth in the volumes of apprentices this year - 32% more apprenticeships are expected to be offered, following a 19% increase in 2017 and a 13% increase in 2016.


Based on the employers with year-on-year data, this means at least another 1,501 apprentice jobs.  

Given that an additional 1,423 graduate jobs are predicted to be offered by the same group of employers, the volume of apprenticeships appears to be growing faster in absolute terms.

An interesting nuance to this trend is that growth in apprenticeships is predicted to be much more consistent across sectors than the growth in graduate roles.  

For example, engineering or industrial firms expect to grow their apprentice volumes by 38%, accountancy businesses expect a growth rate of 34%, and banking employers expect a growth rate of 33%. Other sectors are also in the 30-40% range. This relative consistency could reflect the influence of the Apprenticeship Levy. 


Declines and reneges 

Employers may want to review the way that they secure great apprentices. Just over a quarter of ISE organisations (27%) didn’t fill all their apprentice vacancies in 2017. Overall, an average of 5% of apprentice vacancies went unfilled.


"...apprentice roles are less popular.."


Part of the reason for this could be that apprentice roles are less popular than graduate roles to begin with. Based on the ISE Annual Survey 2017, these roles only attract an average of 29 applications per vacancy, compared to 75 applications per vacancy for graduate jobs.

Employers may need to think carefully about their marketing and where they look in order to find candidates who are a good fit.

Not all apprentices accept job offers either.  

According to the ISE pulse survey, an average of 5% of apprentice job offers were declined and 4% of apprentice job offers were reneged last year. These benchmarks compare to an average of 8% of graduate job offers being reneged, and 4% of graduate job offers being declined. Employers will need to review their offers and be prepared for some students turning them down. 


Possible solutions 

Employers can also take action to minimise the risk of this happening.


Overall, 73% of ISE employers took specific actions to reduce declines, reneges or unfilled vacancies in 2017. The most common action was to provide “keep warm” activity, which includes email communication to new joiners as well as meetings with other graduates or relocation events.  

In other words, helping candidates build a connection to your organisation can be an important strand to your recruitment campaign.

"....shortening selection processes.."

There are many other actions that organisations can take as well. These include making attraction and marketing activity more targeted (34% of employers), shortening selection processes (27% of employers), and increasing the contact time between your candidates and your staff (22% of employers). Employers may wish to take a multi-faceted approach.

The market for apprenticeships is getting increasingly competitive. To secure great talent, it is worth keeping an eye on industry trends.   


For more insights from the Student Recruitment Pulse Survey read our first blog >

The blog post highlighted graduate trends. 


More information on ISE Surveys >