Apprentices are currently seen as the best way to fill skills gaps by 33 per cent of employers, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).
It marks a climb on spring 2014’s 22 per cent – the last time the CIPD collected data on how firms planned to fill vacancies.
As well as taking on apprentices, firms also listed training current workers and recruiting graduates in their top responses to addressing hard-to-fill vacancies.
The survey chimes with official figures that the number of students who find work within three months is at its lowest level since the 2008 financial crisis.
However, 26 per cent of the firms said they would hire graduates to fill vacancies going forward, down from 31 per cent in spring 2014. But it is higher than previous years.
“After a long, dark decade, the prospects for young people are finally looking brighter. The tightening labour market is undoubtedly encouraging more employers to turn to a wider range of younger recruits,” said Gerwyn Davies, a labour market analyst at the CIPD.
“However, it is also due to a recognition among a growing number of employers that they need to develop talent to limit the potential for future labour shortages and pay pressure.”
Evidence of the strengthening labour market is seen in pay predictions. Private sector firms are anticipating pay increases of two per cent this year, up from 1.8 per cent. A fifth of employers plan to raise pay by more than three per cent over the next 12 months.
Last week, the Bank of England said inflation was likely to remain around zero per cent until the final months of the year, a further boost to workers’ pay packets.
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