Last updated: 17.12.14

Boosting number of apprentices could benefit UK economy

With the UK government taking action to challenge the country's skills shortage, increasing the number of apprenticeships would significantly improve Britain's annual gross domestic product (GDP) rate - according to a new report.

Research from the National Audit Office revealed that on average, for every £1 of public funding towards apprenticeships, the economy gains £18 - indicating a growing need for vocational training.

In a recent article for the Telegraph, Mark Boleat - policy chairman of the City of London Corporation - wrote that many businesses are struggling to fill vacancies due to a lack of required skills and training.

Mr Boleat compares the UK's current vocational training system to that of other countries. Australia and Germany both have a higher number of apprentices than England, with the former executing more robust apprenticeship schemes that last between three and four years and in which the learner becomes a qualified tradesperson upon completion.

On the other hand, two-thirds of apprentices in Germany - who are mainly under 25 years old - go on to secure permanent employment by the end of the scheme, choosing from around 350 occupations.

In a report released by UK think-tank Demos, it was estimated that if the number of apprentices in Britain was boosted to similar levels of Australia and Germany, the country's GDP would increase to £4 billion a year.

Therefore, further engagement between schools, colleges and employers is needed in order to move forward effectively.

But the future of young people has already begun to look optimistic. In London, the number of digital technology firms has increased by 28 per cent to 34,000 in the past five years. And with technology continuing to expand across a range of platforms, it's likely that such businesses will want to inspire the next generation of scientists and technologists.

Virtual College provide a range of online tools and resources to further education colleges and training providers to support apprenticeship delivery. To learn more, please visit: