UK young people are not aware apprenticeships are available across a breadth of high-skilled sectors, according to insurance giant Aon.

The UK headquartered firm, which surveyed 1,000 16-19 year olds, found more than four in ten respondents (45%) would consider a career in financial services but awareness of opportunities for apprenticeships within the sector ranked among the lowest identified.

The research revealed young people did not know opportunities were available in actuarial science (85%), insurance (60%) or accountancy (55%).

In contrast, the study found awareness of apprenticeships was highest for traditional manual and service industry trades, with over two-thirds of respondents confirming they understand apprenticeships exist within industries such as hair and beauty (66%) and construction (64%).

"As a global firm committed to growing the number of apprenticeships worldwide, we are encouraged to see increasing acknowledgment among young people of the great career opportunities an apprenticeship offers," said Dominic Christian, chief executive of Aon UK.

"We want apprentices to truly represent today's economy.

"The challenge now is to ensure those advising young people are aware of the contemporary opportunities available.

The research also revealed the largest number of respondents cited "faster career progression" (22%) as the primary motivation for their interest in apprenticeships, a further 19% believed apprenticeships would help get their feet in the door, while 18% were driven by the opportunity to earn while they learned.

The news comes after Aon committed to spend £4.6m ($7.3m, €5.7m) on apprenticeships over a five-year period.

Elsewhere, business body the Confederation of British Industry said apprenticeships can help the economy growth.

"More apprenticeships can help move us towards growth that benefits everyone," Neil Carberry, director of skills and employment at the CBI, said.

"No one knows better than businesses on the ground exactly what skills they need, so it's important they are given the power to demand that, rather than rely on the government to call the tune."