The number of young people starting IT apprenticeships has reached its lowest level in three years, despite a surge in candidates actively seeking work in the ICT sector, according to data.
Official figures from the Skills Funding Agency, a government body, show that 13,060 people started ICT apprenticeships in 2013/14, a decline of 33 percent from 2011/12, when 19,520 students started apprenticeships.
At the same time the number of applications for ICT apprenticeships has almost trebled, from 48,350 in 2010/11 to 133,800 in 2013/14. There are now over 10 applicants for every ICT apprenticeship compared to 2.5 in 2010/11.
Simon Curry, chief executive officer of SJD Accountancy, which obtained the figures, said: "The government has made apprenticeships a policy focus for a number of years, but despite us noticing an upward trend in the number of roles for IT contractors, the number of apprentices in the IT sector is on a worrying downward trend."
He said: "The jump in apprenticeship applications shows that there is growing appetite among candidates for careers in ICT. The concern is that employers are not being provided with the right encouragement to take on and train young professionals."
SJD Accountancy says that the tax break announced in the Autumn Statement, which will abolish employer National Insurance contributions (NICs) on earnings up to the upper earnings limit for apprentices aged 25 and under from 6 April 2016, may help reverse the downward slide in the number of ICT apprenticeships. The tax break is projected to cost the Treasury £490 million between 2016 and 2020.
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