Last updated: 14.03.14

Apprentices contribute £1.8bn to UK economy

The benefits that businesses can gain by taking on apprentices is not always something that is fully appreciated, although a recent report has indicated that companies that choose to do so could stand to save significant of money.

The Centre for Economics and Business Research has released the findings of its study entitled The Value of Apprentices, which shows that apprentices across the UK contributed a combined £1.8 billion to their employers over the course of 2013.

As a result, more companies are now being urged to take on apprentices, with the message being that they could stand to make a huge return on their investment, as the amount of money generated by apprentices is often far greater than the combined cost of their wages and training.

According to the Coventry Telegraph, each apprentice could be worth as much as £2,000 to their employer, even once all these costs have been factored into the equation.

However, the main stumbling block to this is that many people still wrongly view university graduates as being more valuable to companies than school leavers with no qualifications. Yet the recent National Apprenticeship Week, which is now in its seventh year, featured a number of events and initiatives that were designed to try and dispel this myth.

Indeed, it appears that apprenticeships may be preferable not only to employers, but also to the apprentices themselves, as these types of schemes allow young people to learn on the job while also gaining formal qualifications like degrees, yet enables them to avoid having to spend several years studying at university and getting into debt.

Increasingly, apprenticeship schemes are being used to train youngsters in professions that were previously seen as only being accessible to university graduates, with a new wave of law and engineering apprentices currently learning their trade on the job. Zareena Harris from Coventry, for example, recently became one of the country's first ever legal apprentices, and says that if it weren’t for this opportunity, a career in law would have been out of the question due to the high cost of studying at university.