Demand for ICT apprenticeships is heavily outstripping supply, with ten candidates now scrapping over each vacancy, official figures from the Skills Funding Agency show.
The figures, obtained by accounting firm SJD Accountancy, indicate that 13,060 people started ICT apprenticeships in 2013/14, down 33 per cent on 2011/12.
This is despite the number of applications for ICT apprenticeships almost trebling during that period, from 48,350 to 133,800.
This means there are now over 10 applicants competing for each vacancy, compared with 2.5 in 2010/11.
SJD Accountancy said these figures - along with the fall in the number of undergraduates and postgraduates enrolling on computer science courses - raise questions over whether the government's efforts to boost the UK's technology skills base are faltering.
The Skills Funding Agency's figures paint a similar picture to research out earlier this year that also showed that the delta between demand and supply for ICT apprenticeships is widening. These previous figures, which were based on employers who advertise their vacancies using the Apprenticeship Vacancies website, suggested the ratio is now as high as one in 20.
SJD chief executive Simon Curry 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," said
"The UK tech sector has been one of the star performers of the economy in recent years and has created significant demand for fresh talent. It is therefore vitally important that we continue to bring young talent into the industry. 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."
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