Apprentices 'more employable' - survey
Employers in England rate qualified apprentices 15% more employable than those with other qualifications, a survey of 500 firms suggests.
They were asked to rate the employability of people with different qualifications on a scale of 1-10.
The mean of all three apprenticeships scored 7.36 and the average of other qualifications 6.382 - 15% higher.
Those with a higher, degree level, apprenticeship were rated most desirable at 7.98.
Those who had university degrees were rated as 7.58 in the survey.
The findings were revealed by ICM Research, who conducted online interviews with 500 employers in England in February.
Some 3,700 people started higher apprenticeships during the 2011/2012 academic year, a 68% rise on the previous year.
Employers such as British Airways, Siemens, Price Waterhouse Cooper, Unilever and the UK Space Agency are involved in the scheme, which allows participants to pursue degree-level study while getting paid.
Professional services firm PwC said it recruited around 100 school leavers in 2012, including 31 higher apprentices in London. It planned to recruit a further 70 higher apprenticeships in 2013.
In 2013, the higher apprenticeships will be available in a total of 41 subjects including engineering environmental technologies, interactive media, legal services and space engineering.
Skills Minister Matthew Hancock said: "We want apprenticeships or university to become the new norm for young people leaving school and higher apprenticeships are an excellent way to enter high-profile careers while also achieving a degree-level qualification."
David Way, executive director, National Apprenticeship Service said: "We know that apprenticeships deliver real business benefits for employers.
"At the same time, they can provide young people with a nationally recognised work-based route into professions that have traditionally been the preserve of graduates."
Last year, the government funded 4,230 placements in the second round of a £25m higher apprenticeships initiative.
At the time, Business Secretary Vince Cable said it would help sectors tackle skills shortages and boost participation by under-represented groups like women.