Michelle Wright, business development manager at professional services company Nordic Pioneer, told the Association of Public Service Excellence event held at Regent's Park that at around £100 per week or £2.65 per hour, apprentices cost a third of an agency worker.
Nordic Pioneer typically finds 30 apprentice candidates, tests for literacy and numeracy and gives them two weeks' work skills and health and safety training. The employer then chooses 10 at interview.
Wright said: "At the end of 12 months, if there are one or two you fancy keeping then that's good. If not then you've already given them a great opportunity." Companies can also get cashback for employing apprentices under a youth contract scheme.
"It costs £52,000 for 10 apprentices and you can get £22,000 from the Government," added Wright.