By David Pollard, Chairman Education, Skills and Business Support Policy Group at the FSB.

Apprenticeships are an established part of the UK’s skills system and have been used by businesses for centuries. Apprentices can be an important asset to a business. They can rapidly become productive team members and bring new ideas and perspectives to their employers. It is important that this concept is protected and small businesses have access to high quality apprenticeship training programmes.

According to Cebr, an employee that has completed an apprenticeship can improve productivity by over £200 per week. The economic value of apprenticeship graduates could be worth up to £34bn to the UK economy, demonstrating the value investment in high -quality apprenticeship provision could have. This in turn has a major implication on the competitiveness of, and availability of skills for, UK businesses.

The benefits of taking on an apprentice

Apprentices are a good way for businesses to grow their own skilled workers who understand the firm's culture and market. Some trades are built on apprenticeships, such as construction and plumbing. The on the job training element of apprenticeships is an ideal way to pass on product and customer specific knowledge to new staff before it is lost as seasoned employees retire. They can also be good for wider staff development. They provide an opportunity for employees to gain management experience and improve morale through working together to enhance the firm’s wider skills set.

According to the government, 84% of employers say they are satisfied with the apprenticeship programme, almost 9 in 10 of every employer that takes on an apprentice report benefits to their business and 70% reported that apprenticeships improved their productivity or the quality of their product or service.

Taking on apprentices can be a good way for a business to train people in the skills they need to be more productive and grow. This can have long-term benefits for the firm, apprenticeship graduates are loyal employees working long term for the firm they undertook their apprenticeship with.