By Suzie Webb AAT news Latest statistics show strong pull of apprenticeship schemes 13 Apr 2016 The Government’s drive towards strong increases in the number of UK apprentices over this Parliament looks to be on track, following publication of the latest statistics from the Skills Funding Agency. They reveal record apprenticeship participation during the 2014-2015 year of 871,800, and given that over 708,000 funded apprentices took part in an apprenticeship in the first six months of 2015-2016, all the indications suggest that the record is set to be exceeded again. Apprenticeships are an education and training pathway to a wide range of careers. The perception that they are skewed towards a small number of traditional sectors like manufacturing and construction is ill-informed and outdated, with the most popular industry for English apprentices being health and social care (attracting some 85,000 apprenticeship starts during 2014-2015), followed by business administration and management. Accountancy, IT and Telecoms and Customer Services also feature highly on the list. Apprenticeship starts are up at all ages, and at all levels. Perhaps most notably, adults who may be thinking of starting their career at a later age or indeed switching to something entirely new seems to be surging – with a 27.5% increase in the 24+ Advanced Learning Loan, issued to those aged 24 or above to help with costs for a Level 3 or 4 course at a college or training provider. Similar loans are set to come into effect for 19-23 year olds from May 1 2016, and we would expect these will have a solid start. Apprenticeships can truly deliver in terms of financial and career fulfilment, and we take pride that AAT is a leading provider of apprenticeships into the accountancy sector. Equally, for those thinking of changing career, we have learners who choose to retrain in one of our accounting qualifications right up into their 70s. Workers in any profession should never lose sight of their options to try something new – especially the 36% of Britons who told us they felt they were in a ‘dead end job’ in recent research we conducted. Apprenticeship schemes are alive and well, and are being chosen by learners in record numbers for a variety of reasons. Some young adults are turning to them as an alternative to going to University; others have a strong sense of their future career and recognise that becoming an apprentice could be the best route to practically learn their profession. For more mature learners, apprenticeships can prove to be a breath of fresh air with options to learn something entirely new, or could provide on the job training to complement an individual’s existing qualifications and experience. They truly can provide an excellent path to career success. Photo: Ryan Lobo finished his A levels at school and after considering many career routes decided the best option would be to learn whilst gaining experience in the workplace. He is now an AAT apprentice working for London Borough of Croydon. Suzie Webb is AAT's Director of Education & Development.