Vince Cable: The economy gains £18 for every £1 invested in an apprentice

They boost the UK’s finances, business secretary tells us

NAS photoshoot editor Sophie Hobson right, with co-hosts Vince Cable (centre) and Tim Campbell (far left) and others at the launch of National Apprenticeship Week

Vince Cable said the benefits of hiring an apprentice far outweigh the costs, for both businesses and the economy as a whole.

Speaking to us at the launch of National Apprenticeship week, which was co-hosted by editor Sophie Hobson, the business secretary said that for every pound spent on apprenticeships, £18 is added to the economy.

But it’s not just the economy – businesses can gain a lot from taking on an apprentice, he said.

“It’s good for companies because they need skills. We’re desperately short of them in areas like engineering and digital, for example. Traditionally [those industries] have relied on bringing people in from abroad and just doing without, and that’s not satisfactory.

“So from a whole lot of points of view we need more apprenticeships and particularly we need higher quality and higher level,” he said.


Businesses shouldn’t ignore the incentives for taking on apprentices, Cable said.

“There are quite considerable incentives to take on apprenticeships. If they’re hiring young apprentices, there’s a tax rebate under the National Insurance system and the government will provide 50:50 funding if they take on apprentices and pursue them,” he said.

He added that 85% of employers were happy with the apprenticeship, especially after allowing time to get used to it.

“I think they have to take a bit of time to reflect on getting the apprentice going, having faith in it,” he said.

“The evidence we have suggests there’s about 85% satisfaction level for employers who have taken this on, and I would encourage many others to do the same because our small and medium-sized companies by-and-large haven’t been doing apprenticeships.”

Cable said the next government should continue the good work his government had done in growing apprenticeships.

“All the three main political parties at Westminster have agreed that they want to expand apprenticeships but there are disagreements about how you finance it. The Tories, for example, want to cut benefits for young people, which is in our view rather a harsh way of approaching it, but everybody agrees we should do more,” he said.

The Conservatives said their plan for financing apprenticeships would involve abolishing the Jobseeker’s Allowance and replacing it with a Youth Allowance which runs out after six months if people haven’t got a traineeship, apprenticeship or community volunteering.


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