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The Issue

We believe apprenticeships – paid jobs that incorporate on and off the job training – are an effective way of preserving important skills, transferring knowledge and keeping key trades and professions alive. Recruiting an apprentice also makes good business sense, which is why a quarter (24%) of our members currently have at least one in their business and a further 24 per cent are considering employing an apprentice in the future.

However, there are still barriers that limit small businesses’ ability to take on apprentices, such as access to high-quality training and lack of information. Changes in the way apprenticeships in England are funded also means that small businesses will be asked to contribute towards the cost of training apprentices. 

We’re working with the Government to ensure that the new system will provide small businesses with an equitable, financially viable and straight-forward way to take on apprentices.

Action FSB have taken

  • We’re at the forefront of discussions with the Government to simplify the apprenticeship system and are advising policymakers on making apprenticeships more accessible and affordable for small firms.
  • We’re working with the Government and the Careers Enterprise Company to make it easier for small businesses to get involved in educating young people about, among other things, apprenticeships. 
  • We’re lobbying to give small businesses a louder voice in the development of a reformed apprenticeship system, including apprenticeship standards

Our Goal

Successful businesses recognise the value of investing and training apprentices. We want to see small firms choosing to get involved in apprenticeships, because they offer high-quality training that is truly employer-led and represents a sound investment in their future.

“The opportunity to get young people into work and training is massive, if we can get it right” FSB Member.   

Achievements in...



  • We published a report on maximising the role of small businesses in supporting apprenticeships growth, Make or break: Getting apprenticeship reform right for small businesses.
  • We’re part of the Government’s Apprenticeship Stakeholder Board, ensuring that small businesses are heard.
  • We have called on the Government to improve careers information, advice and guidance on apprenticeships and other vocational pathways into work.
  • We have called for the scrapping of National Insurance for employers who take on an apprentice.
  • We’ve successfully lobbied Government for the continuation of the £1,500 grants to small firms who take on apprentices.
Visit UK/Westminster section


  • FSB Wales has secured a £40 million package, which offers small businesses up to £3,900 of funding towards the apprentice's salary in the first 12 months, and up to £500 per business for administration costs.
Visit Wales section


  • We secured a £4,000 allowance that micro and small businesses can use to offset the costs of hiring an apprentice.
Visit Scotland section

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