Young people will be able to use UCAS to search and apply for apprenticeships, alongside degrees, under new plans announced today (6 February).

From this autumn, UCAS will expand their service so that young people can see more personalised options, including apprenticeships. From 2024, students will then be able to apply for apprenticeships through UCAS alongside an undergraduate degree application.

Almost half of people that register on UCAS say they would consider an apprenticeship, but currently there are not enough vacancies being advertised through the service to meet growing demand.

The plans will help put technical and vocational education on an equal footing with traditional academic routes. By opening up the service to apprenticeship opportunities, thousands more young people will benefit from a wider choice of high-quality options.

Employers will also benefit from better access to talent on UCAS and the ability to manage their apprentice recruitment process.

Announcing the plans during National Apprenticeship Week, the Education Secretary Gillian Keegan pledged to go further still, and develop a one-stop-shop where young people can compare the full range of occupations, training and education opportunities available to them. She said: “My apprenticeship was my golden ticket. It gave me a unique insight into how a business operated, from the shop floor to the boardroom. I learnt the skills that businesses truly value and it launched my career in international business. This National Apprenticeship Week I hope more people learn about the incredible opportunities available in everything from engineering to accountancy, healthcare to gaming software development. Whatever career goals you aspire to, they can be achieved through an apprenticeship which go up to masters degree level.”


Clare Marchant, Chief Executive of UCAS said: “Presenting students with all their choices in one place will not only transform the apprenticeship offering but create real parity by putting these options side-by-side with undergraduate courses. As an independent charity working across the UK and globally, students are at the heart of everything we do at UCAS, and with almost half of all UCAS users interested in apprenticeships, equating to hundreds of thousands of potential apprentices, we can help meet this growing demand by showcasing all post-secondary opportunities. Today’s announcement by the Department for Education shows the commitment to deliver a clear, accessible and joined-up service that will help students discover, decide and apply in one place, enabling them to achieve their future careers aspirations."


John Cope, executive director at UCAS and leading board member for IfATE, added: “This new, ground-breaking partnership between UCAS, Government and IFATE will see undergraduate degrees and apprenticeships sit side-by-side for the first time, boosting apprenticeship and supporting our economy to grow. At UCAS, we know over 50% of those who set up their account with us are interested in doing an apprenticeship, while data from IFATE shows 84% of those who become and apprentice feel they made the right choice. This new partnership will boost numbers and make sure more people are making the right choice for them as they plot their career plan.”

Over 1.5m students already use the UCAS Hub to access information on different education and training routes. From 2023, students will be able to explore apprenticeship opportunities alongside undergraduate courses within the Hub, allowing them to discover and decide between their options in the same place for the first time.

It will also show students the different routes into a single career destination, meaning if a student is interested in, for example, engineering, they will see the undergraduate and apprenticeship routes displayed side-by-side.

From autumn 2024, students will then be able to apply for apprenticeships within the UCAS Hub and employers will be able to manage applications for their apprenticeship vacancies through UCAS too.

So that as many apprenticeship vacancies are advertised through the Hub as possible, the Government will collaborate with UCAS to share vacancy information collated through its Find an Apprenticeship Service, which already collates and advertises thousands of opportunities.

The government’s ambition is to develop a seamless ‘one-stop shop’ where a young person can explore all the high-quality options and learn about the skills and knowledge they need to develop to succeed in their chosen career, whether it’s a level 2 apprenticeship, a T Level, a degree, a Skills Bootcamp, a higher technical qualification or a degree apprenticeship.

The Government has asked IfATE to use our work with occupational maps to chart technical career routes to support this.

John Boumphrey, Amazon UK Country Manager said: “This is fantastic news for the future of apprenticeships. Amazon is celebrating our tenth year of offering apprenticeships in the UK, and we currently have around 1,700 in training. One theme we often hear from current apprentices is the need to increase awareness of apprenticeships as a viable career path. We are clear on the benefits to both the apprentices, who earn and learn at the same time, as well as to employers, who gain access to incredible talent while shaping the skills needed for the future. Amazon is proud to support UCAS and the Department for Education this National Apprenticeship Week to promote these opportunities.”


Richard Hamer, Director of Education and Skills, BAE Systems plc said: "BAE Systems is committed to supporting apprenticeships and young people so we are delighted to hear there will be better matching between the UCAS Hub Users and apprenticeship vacancies. This will help support both young people looking for apprenticeship opportunities and us, as employers, identifying diverse talent for our apprenticeship programmes."


Vanessa Wilson, CEO University Alliance said: "As the body representing leading professional and technical universities across the UK, we welcome moves to better support students into degree apprenticeships. Delivering skilled and job ready graduates is in the DNA of alliance universities, and we positively embrace any opportunity to provide students at all levels and ages with routes into education and training. As the gold standard course and provider platform for generations, UCAS are the natural choice to deliver information, advice and opportunities in the apprenticeship space. Alliance universities stand ready to deliver these training opportunities."


Jane Hickie, Chief Executive of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers said: “Accessing information about apprenticeships can be confusing and complicated at times. That’s why we’re delighted to see that UCAS will expand their apprenticeship service to match potential apprentices with vacancies. This could be a gamechanger, and alongside an enhanced talent finder function for employers, is much needed. It also shows how apprenticeships are a really valuable option for learners and employers alike. We would urge employers and training providers to work closely with UCAS to showcase the opportunities they have for potential learners to ensure this improved service becomes a real success.”


Karen Luckly-Tang, Head of Future Talent, Legal and General Group PLC said: "At Legal & General, a well skilled, talented workforce is absolutely critical to our mission. Having apprentices that are talented, ambitious and diverse is absolutely key and we are delighted that UCAS is developing its services to employers further to enable this. We look forward to being part of this exciting development in attracting the very best to this 'earn whilst you learn' route."


Professor Sir Chris Husbands, Vice-Chancellor at Sheffield Hallam University, said: “Degree apprenticeship provision at universities like Sheffield Hallam have grown substantially since their introduction. In fact, apprenticeships across all levels are an increasingly important part of our education eco-system. We welcome this announcement as a step towards providing learners with better information on all the options available to them, so that they can take a considered view on what route is best for them.”
Adam Tickell, VC at the University of Birmingham, said: “The University of Birmingham is proud to offer degree apprenticeships in partnership with major employers and smaller firms because our collaborations offer exceptional education and training opportunities. We also offer apprenticeship opportunities in many of our technical and professional services to provide essential training in shortage areas. We welcome this step to make it easier for prospective students to apply for apprenticeships alongside undergraduate degrees.”