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BT considers increasing its apprenticeship places


High levels of youth unemployment that led to BT receiving more than 100 applications for each of its apprenticeship places mean that the telecoms provider is now considering whether to expand the scheme.

The company had nearly 24,000 applications for the 221 positions that were available this year - more than the total number of applications to Oxford University, which attracted 17,000 candidates for 3,000 undergraduate places.
As a result, Alex Wilson, BT's human resources director, told the Independent: "Given this interest, and BT's plans to spend £2.5bn on rolling out fibre broadband, the company is now considering whether to expand the scheme. We'll need engineers to help us deliver superfast broadband and so we hope to tap into the interest that is being shown by young people across the UK."
Successful candidates will receive a starting salary of between £11,000 and £14,000 and specialise in information technology, telecoms or customer service. They will also train for qualifications, which include BTECs and foundation degrees.
The high levels of interest in the scheme reflect soaring rates of youth unemployment among the UK's six million 18 to 24-year-olds, which currently stand at 17.5%. The National Apprenticeship Service has recorded a steady increase in the number of applications being made via its web site, nearly doubling to 41,940 in July from 22,550 in April.
University admissions service Ucas has also seen applications rise by 11.7% in June this year compared with a year earlier, while it emerged last week that growing numbers of school leavers were applying directly to graduate employers rather than attempt to go to university.
PricewaterhouseCoopers said applications for its school leavers' entry scheme doubled to 800 over the last year, while Network Rail indicated that it had more than 4,000 applications for more than 200 apprenticeship places.
To try and tackle the issue, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has said it plans to fund 8,000 full-time places for UK and EU students and to create 50,000 additional apprenticeship positions.

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