designers working on a 3d model

According to BCS, The Chartered Institute of IT, and UCAS, the popularity of digital apprenticeships has surged to new heights, driven in part by the expanding presence of AI in various spheres of business, daily life, and political arenas.

Recent UK Government statistics indicate a notable increase of 10% in new learners opting for digital apprenticeships. Moreover, fresh figures released by BCS reveal a 27% year-over-year increase in final assessments for IT apprenticeships, marking promising advancements, particularly in the completion rates of the newly introduced AI Data Specialist apprenticeship.

These encouraging developments align with the latest analysis from UCAS, which highlights an increasing awareness of digital apprenticeships. Specifically, exactly half of the applicants who sought to study computing via the UCAS Hub in 2023 also demonstrated an interest in pursuing an apprenticeship—up from 46.8% in 2022. This trend coincides with a growing demand for spots in undergraduate computing programs at universities, evidenced by the placement of 17,525 UK 18-year-olds this year—a notable rise of 5.3% compared to 2022.

In National Apprenticeship Week (5 – 11 Feb), BCS and UCAS encourage the government and employers to increase investment in apprenticeship programmes to bridge digital skills shortages and provide opportunities for all.

Annette Allmark, Director of Learning and Development at BCS, said: “The shortage of tech skills costs the UK economy and its workers billions yearly. Digital apprenticeships are an effective way of boosting the tech talent pipeline, especially for underrepresented groups. We know more people are applying for and completing digital apprenticeships, and we believe the popularity of emerging technologies like AI is fuelling that increase.

“The next government must ensure that digital apprenticeships are supported as they are a valuable pathway into a fantastic career in technology – plus digital skills are necessary in all other occupations and sectors.”

Sander Kristel, UCAS Chief Operating Officer, said: “We know that exactly half of the students who applied for computing courses last year were interested in apprenticeships, but more roles are needed as demand grows among young students making their post-16 choices. UCAS is committed to supporting students’ aspirations by making them aware of all the options available to them, with our new apprenticeship service, the most relevant apprenticeship opportunities for them alongside higher education courses.

“As part of our ambitions, we have a range of tools and services that employers can use, not only to support more young people into digital apprenticeships as well as those looking to upskill, but also to help them reach this massive talent pool and create a sustainable pipeline for their business.”

About BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT

BCS is the professional body for information technology. Our purpose, as defined by Royal Charter, is to promote and advance the education and practice of computing for the benefit of the public. With around 70,000 members, BCS brings together academics, practitioners, industry, and government to share knowledge, promote new thinking, inform the design of new curricula, and shape policy.

About UCAS

UCAS, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, is an independent charity, and the UK’s shared admissions service for higher education. Our services support young people making post-18 choices, as well as mature learners, by providing information, advice, and guidance to inspire and facilitate educational progression to university, college, or an apprenticeship. We manage almost three million applications, from around 700,000 people each year, for full-time undergraduate courses at over 380 universities and colleges across the UK. We also provide a wide range of research, consultancy and advisory services to schools, colleges, careers services, professional bodies, and employers, including apprenticeships. We’re a successful and fast-growing organisation, which helps hundreds of thousands of people every year. We’re committed to delivering a first-class service to all our customers — they’re at the heart of everything we do.