Apprenticeship schemes – particularly for smaller companies – are a major resource for skills training. There have been more than two million apprenticeship starts since 2010, and there are currently over 1,500 job roles available in more than 170 industries. Nine out of ten successful apprentices stay in employment, 71% with the same employer.

More than 100,000 employers currently use apprenticeships, with 16% of all UK employers offering apprenticeships, and over 80% relying on apprenticeships to provide the skills they need for the future. Almost all (96%) report benefits to their business including improved productivity – by an average £214 per week – new ideas, improved morale and staff retention.There are more than 250 different types of apprenticeships marketed to young people as ‘a real job with training’ offering SMEs the opportunity to train and develop people with precisely the skills needed. Apprenticeships can also be used to train existing as well as new staff.

The government funds 100% of the training costs of 16–18-year-olds, and up to 50% of 19–23-year-olds: employers only pay the salary of apprentices. Employers who have not taken on an apprentice in the past year may be eligible to receive a £1,500 grant. The minimum apprentice wage is £2.73 per hour for under-19s, although many pay more: the average apprentice salary is over £170 a week – see

Earlier this year, the Centre for Economics and Business Research estimated that a typical apprentice delivers productivity gains of over £10,000 a year, almost double in construction, engineering and manufacturing; and even while training there’s an average net gain of £1,670 a year.

The CEBR report also revealed that consumers prefer to do business with organisations that employ apprentices, perceived by two-thirds of the public as contributing to society and providing opportunities for young people. One in four people even say they would pay more for goods and services offered by companies employing apprentices.