There has been a rise in the number of young people taking up 'white collar apprenticeships' in management and accountancy, raising the question of whether a university degree could now become redundant.
The region's only FTSE 100 company has joined a growing number of firms that are offering apprenticeships to young people.
The software giant Sage has taken on eleven apprentices, in a climate where young people are increasingly choosing either to apply directly for an apprenticeship rather than a university degree - or in some cases are turning down a place at university to sign up for apprenticeships.
The number of people choosing so-called 'white collar' apprenticeships has more than tripled in the last four years, at a time when rising tuition fees are deterring many young people from continuing in higher education.
A new report has concluded that apprenticeships must be on equal footing with university degrees.
As the latest NEET figures are released today, a new study has highlighted the role apprenticeships play in getting school and college leavers into work.
Industry experts are calling upon the government today to give a greater priority to and focus on vocational courses over university degrees, after a major report revealed that apprenticeships could result in comparable earnings to a university graduate.
Whilst 44% of graduates are predicted to be either underemployed or unemployed six months after leaving full time education, the report reveals that just 4.5% of those with Level 4 vocational qualifications are unemployed.