Return on investment of Apprenticeships

This research looked at the role of Apprenticeships in recruitment, succession and workforce development planning in small and medium-sized organisations in adult social care.


To help small and medium-sized employers (SMEs) in adult social care with their succession and workforce development planning, Skills for Care introduced the Progression Pathways Project. Its aim was to support SMEs create a sustainable plan for their workforce development which would meet their ambition of either maintaining or increasing their business reach. 

At the heart of the project was the use of Apprenticeships as a way of recruiting and developing suitable staff for their organisations. 

Key findings 

Evaluation from the first year showed that the use of Apprenticeships, rather than traditional routes of recruitment, meant that employers had a better return on their investment.

  • Businesses’ main motivation for recruiting apprentices is a perceived need to develop a pipeline of skills for the future.
  • The Progression Pathways Project appears to be valued by participants at least as much for the learning opportunities it affords and the impetus it provides as for the financial incentives on offer.
  • Employers do expect apprentices to contribute value through bringing in more business, reducing costs, and improving productivity.
  • Two-thirds of employers believe that apprentices will improve the quality of care they offer in the next 12 months.
  • A third of employers believe that Apprenticeships have already improved their recruitment processes and raised their profile in their local area.
  • The Progression Pathways Project has enabled additional, or faster, recruitment of apprentices by giving employers the support they require to have the confidence to develop this aspect of their businesses.
  • Apprentices appear to be approximately £2,000 per year less expensive than alternative provision that organisations would use.
  • On average each apprentice will bring in almost £10,000 more than they cost over the lifetime of their Apprenticeship.

Download the full report.