Number of apprenticeships increase as graduate opportunities fall, reports PCMS


The number of graduate positions available in the UK has dropped for the first time in four years following the UK’s decision to leave the EU, a worrying statistic for students heading back to school or contemplating their first year at university. This comes at a time when a record number of students were accepted into university in 2016, causing a greater demand for graduate employment despite the number of vacancies falling by 8% this year, reports the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR).

This is troubling when, in 2015, many university graduates struggled to find a job. Only 52% are currently in full-time work. Even for those that managed to find full-time employment, a study conducted by the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) revealed that almost 60% of UK graduates took jobs that are not directly affiliated with their professional qualification, while one in 12 of those found themselves in low skilled sectors, such as hospitality.

Faced with competitive pressures, some candidates may find a more compelling career solution by turning their attention to apprenticeships, according to Elaine Rowlands, head of HR at PCMS. After a career spent working with the biggest names in retail, Elaine believes that apprenticeships are an important alternative to university that can often be a more reliable path to full-time and rewarding employment.

“I am passionate about apprenticeships being a credible alternative to university – particularly in a fast-paced industry like retail technology, where new products are shaping the consumer experience every day. Apprentices have an immediate edge by going straight into on-the-job training, gaining the real-life work experience essential to thrive in a competitive sector.

“At PCMS, we offer apprentices the opportunity to work across leading retail technology designed to service the whole of the sector, and to be part of a team that helps retailers to bridge the gap between the physical and online shopping worlds.

“Our apprenticeships reflect our belief that investment in employees begins on the first day of training, and are ideal for those who are looking to secure a role within a support, operations or software development environment.”

Vacancies in the retail sector have been hard hit according to the AGR report and so opportunities, like the one offered by PCMS, are a great prospect for those wanting to work in the sector. In 2017, the government will launch an apprenticeship levy that will require companies with a pay bill of over £3m a year to make an investment in apprenticeships. This has had an impact on graduate programmes, with one in 10 companies re-packaging graduate roles as higher apprenticeships, further reducing the number of graduate vacancies and making apprenticeships an attractive route into entering a chosen career.

For any school and college leavers looking to take advantage of the opportunities at PCMS, they should forward their CVs with a covering letter to or contact the company on 024 7669 4455. To find out more, please visit