Young people need to stop "drifting" into academia "which may not be suitable for them" and see apprenticeships as "just as good as pursuing a university route," Business Secretary Vince Cable told Good Morning Britain.
Plans to help young people get more out of their apprenticeships are unveiled today, with new employer-designed standards to ensure they get the training they need.
The party says applicants are now two-and-a-half times more likely to get into Cambridge than on to the BAE apprenticeship scheme, and that young people have a greater chance of achieving a first-class degree than securing a spot on the Jaguar Land Rover scheme.
Young people today want a real choice of earn-while-you-learn routes to degree level professional and technical skills, the sorts of skills that unlock chances as an engineer, an accountant or a para-legal.
Today we have frustrated companies and we have frustrated workers.
We need a new way forward.
A path that's pro-company and pro-worker.
Today it's incredibly difficult to take an apprenticeship or college route to degree level professional and technical skills.
Just 2% of apprentices are given the chance to study to degree level each year. None of our competitors are making the same mistakes.
– Shadow business minister Liam Byrne
At City of Westminster College, Mr Byrne will say a Labour government would give employers more control over the standards and assessment criteria for training, and task combined local authorities and enterprise partnerships with drawing up the commissioning strategy for adult skills in their area.
Prime Minister David Cameron is expected to announce that in future, apprenticeships will last at least a year and will be based on standards designed by employers, to meet the specific needs of their industry.
Apprentices will be subjected to more thorough academic assessment - including maths and English tests - and graded at pass, merit or distinction level in a similar way to their contemporaries in full-time education. At least 20% of their training will take place away from their work stations.
Downing Street said it was intended that all new apprenticeships will meet the new standards by 2017/18.
Prime Minister David Cameron is expected to frame the "new era of apprentices" as part of the Government's efforts to consolidate the growth now returning to the UK economy in a speech later today.
During a visit to the Mini factory in Oxford, he is expected to say: "We know that the economy is turning a corner; GDP figures last week showed the third consecutive quarter of growth and we know we have record levels of employment.
"But we cannot for one moment be complacent. I'm determined we finish the job we started."
Mr Cameron will tell trainees at the plant that the reforms will make a "massive difference" to the lives of thousands of young people by ensuring UK companies provide "the best apprenticeships in the world".
Prime Minister David Cameron will unveil a new generation of apprenticeships designed to drive down youth unemployment and make vocational training an attractive choice.
During a visit to the Mini factory in Oxford later today where he will meet motor industry apprentices, Mr Cameron was also announce 100,000 vocational training schemes for young people over the next two years, modelled on successful programmes run by the Prince's Trust.
Young people struggling to find work in the UK are being offered the opportunity to take up "all inclusive" apprenticeships in Germany.
The scheme – promoted by a board member of the German-British Chamber of Industry and Commerce – is being run by International Business Academy (IBA).
IBA’s website offers a "Germany all inclusive” package and states that the offer is being funded by the German government and the German trade and industry “for approximately three years”.
The package includes pay of nearly £700 a month after tax, 170 hours of free language lessons, relocation costs, two expenses-paid visits a year home, plus training at one of Germany’s vocational schools according to the Daily Mail.
Apprenticeship opportunities in the UK need to be challenged further, the Prime Minister has said.
David Cameron, who will be visiting a training academy today, said standards need to be raised, making apprenticeships more "responsive to the needs of employers."
But we need to challenge ourselves to go even further, that is why I want it to be the new norm for young people to either go to university or into an apprenticeship. We need to look at how we can expand apprenticeship opportunities so that they are available to all young people who are ready and eager to take them up, and aspire to get ahead in life.