British Telecom has received more than 100 applications for each of its apprenticeships this year, as school leavers scramble to find places at university or jobs with prospects amid the worst youth unemployment since the early 1990s.
British Telecom had almost 24,000 applications for its 221 apprenticeship positions – up from 9,000 last year. More people applied for those few positions – seen as the route to a job for life – than applied to Oxford University, which attracted 17,144 candidates for its 3,000 undergraduate places.
BT apprentices start on a salary between £11,000 and £14,000 per annum. Successful apprentices specialise in either IT, telecoms, electrical systems or customer service and study for a BTEC (a vocational qualification) or a foundation degree.
A mini baby boom that peaked in the early 1990s and high youth unemployment are combining to make this year particularly tough for school leavers. Over the past three years, the unemployment rate among the UK’s 6m 18-24 year olds has climbed by five percentage points to 17.5 per cent. More young people than ever are now applying for places in education.