Apprenticeship Labour Market – What has changed?

Apprenticeship Labour Market – What has changed?

Apprenticeship week – 7th to 13th February 2021

Between September and November 2021 alone, there were 1.22 million vacancies in the UK; with Greater Manchester having over 111,000 in October 2021. These are great numbers to see, as this shows how the labour market is getting back on it’s feet. However, studies have shown that there are more vacancies than job seekers in both full time and apprenticeship positions.

With more vacancies and apprenticeship openings available, it would be easy to think that the candidate market would be booming. However, the pandemic has made job seekers think differently and even change their ways. So why is this? how has the apprenticeship labour market changed?

How we live today

Emsi Burning Glass and Get My First Job hosted an online presentation discussing the changes in apprentice behaviour, vacancies and what businesses are doing to help attract more attention. One of the biggest changes was seen in apprenticeship pay.

Data: Emsi Burning glass and GetMyFirstJobThis data was compiled through a fixed cohort of 200,000 16 – 18 year olds, showing how apprentices are now thinking about wages.

Though the number of applications for the lower and mid pay ranges stayed on average, it is the high pay range that saw the biggest change in 2021. The median monthly pay for full time/permanent position increased by 5.3% from the previous year to £2,031.

When you compare that with the current minimum hourly wage for an apprentice (£4.30), many no longer deem the minimum apprenticeship wage feasible. This isn’t helped by the fact that inflation has increased by 6% and many commodities that were inexpensive now increase in price daily.

More Vacancies, Less Unemployment

By December 2021 there were 1,247,000 vacancies live in the UK, higher than before the pandemic at 811,000. Yet unemployment has been decreasing since the pandemic for those 16 and over; meaning that there are more vacancies than those actively looking. This can have a high impact on those applying for roles across the country.

Economic Inactivity

The one side of the labour market that isn’t heard often is economic inactivity. Between January and March 2020, 8.46 million between the ages of 16 – 64 were classed as economically inactive; Now, this has increased to 8.75 million. But it’s the median apprentice age range (16 – 24) that were inactive, with an increase of 98,000 not actively looking on the previous year. For apprenticeships the median age is within the 16 – 24 age range; which does make the opportunities to find candidates that bit harder.

How can we increase apprenticeship employment?

It would be great to think that we could snap our fingers and candidates suddenly appear. But the real world isn’t that forgiving; there isn’t a sure-fire way to improve the labour market. What can be done to help increase the candidate activity?

Be more open about business opportunities

Apprentices aren’t just looking for a job; they’re starting a journey that will take them to their dream career. With this in mind, candidates want to know progression opportunities and what could be in store for them at the end. Whether this be a permanent position, promotions, training or to go onto higher level apprenticeships; they want to know what they could achieve with you.

Highlight USPs for your business

Do you take employees out for well-being events? Hold awards for employer recognition? Have a fun, casual office setting? By letting candidates know your USPs it will give them a better reason to apply! For example, you look to hire an apprentice through 360 Apprenticeships and send over the job description; let us know what USPs you have! This will attract more candidates and make the position look even more appealing.

Don’t rely on age

As mentioned previously, the median age for economic inactivity and apprenticeships is 16 – 24. Yet, we have noticed more candidates aged 25 and over looking at the apprenticeship scheme to gain experience. For many years, apprenticeships were seen to be for school or college leavers, but times are changing. More are looking for changes in career but don’t necessarily have the skills or experience, so relying on one age range can stop the chances of finding the perfect apprentice.

Rate of pay

In April 2022, the minimum rate of pay will be increasing from £4.30 to £4.80 an hour for all apprenticeships. But that doesn’t mean you have to stay at the minimum; if you know you need someone with skills and experience already, don’t be afraid to offer a higher wage. It doesn’t need to be the minimum working wage, but this will attract the right candidates and attract more to apply.

It’s not all doom and gloom

The apprenticeship labour market is slowly getting back to its pre-lockdown days, but there have been some great achievements. 321,400 apprentices were signed onto the apprenticeship scheme and 156,500 completed their course.

360 Apprenticeships also had a great year in 2021. There were ups and downs, yet we hit some of the best figures to date:

  • In 2021, we worked with over 130 employers and placed 344 apprentices in their chosen field
  • 85% of positions were filled within 2.6 weeks
  • 91% of apprentices who finished their apprenticeship in 2021 were offered promotions or permanent positions


The apprenticeship labour market has taken a hit in the last few years due to the pandemic, but it is starting to improve. However, we can’t just relay on time to bring the labour market back to how it was. Candidates are now looking for apprenticeships that will give them ample opportunities to progress, competitive salaries and incentives. No longer is the promise of employment enough to attract apprentices, it’s what both the apprenticeship and your business can do for them.

How 360 Apprenticeships can help

We provide a free service from first point of contact to the successful placement of each apprentice. Every apprentice who is successful will only be placed with the best training providers (Graded 1 and/or 2 by Ofsted) so you know that everyone is in safe hands.

You can find out more regarding the apprenticeship scheme on our website. To speak to one of our recruiters directly, you can contact us on:

0161 4644805

or email us at [email protected]. You can also find us on social media:

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Instagram: @360apprenticeships

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Twitter: @360Apprentices