New research has shown employers in Greater Manchester and Cheshire see more value in recruiting an apprentice than leavers fresh from school, college, and even university. 

Results of the study, commissioned by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) to assess employer attitudes towards apprenticeships and awareness of the wider system, showed more than half (54%) of business owners expressing this sentiment. This was well ahead of GCSE school leavers (11%), A-level college leavers (14%), and even graduates (20%).  

The same survey also showed business leaders, on the whole, regarded apprenticeships positively. In total, 67% indicated they were ‘fairly positive’ about apprenticeships, and 15% were ‘very positive’. By comparison only15% said they were ‘fairly negative’, and just three per cent as ‘very negative’.

“Our research suggests small businesses really do value apprentices,” said Regional Chair for the FSB in Greater Manchester & North Cheshire, Simon Edmondson. “The findings show many have clearly had positive experience of employing them, and clearly demonstrates employers really do see the benefits of this route in to workplace for young people.

“This is an especially important message at the time of year when many young people are leaving full time education to start their careers. Apprenticeships are an excellent way to get that all important first step on the job ladder and give young adults the best possible chance of career success. It’s great to see so many small businesses in agreement,” he added.

The research follows Friday’s publication of the Government’s proposals for how the new funding arrangements for apprenticeships will work under a reformed apprenticeship system. In a key concession to calls from the FSB, ministers have proposed smaller firms with fewer than 50 employees which take on a 16-18 year old apprentice will not be required to make any financial contribution towards the cost of training.

Businesses which take on younger apprentices will also benefit from a cash incentive of £1,000 per apprentice.

FSB is organising an event in Manchester this autumn for small business owners seeking more information about the new apprenticeship system. For more information e-mail:


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