A boost of £1.2m has been added to the economy as a result of apprenticeships.

MP for Epping Forest Eleanor Laing announced yesterday that businesses receive an annual average benefit of £2,009 when they take on an apprentice.

Last year 600 apprentices were taken on in the district but only 40 per cent of small businesses took part.

Daniel Buss, who runs Stanley Bridge Cycles in Market Square, Waltham Abbey, got his first job through an apprenticeship.

He said: “They’re a good thing.

“It’s sometimes better to have someone straight out of college and give them experience and train them up ourselves than someone older who’s been trained elsewhere.

“Younger people won’t be paid as much but as they improve we will pay them more and more.

“It’s also good that training courses are subsidised if we want to send apprentices on them.”

But Tom Carthy, who runs Carthy’s Plumbing, has given five people work experience but not kept any of them on and is currently working with a sixth.

He said: “The people who come out of college don’t seem to have been given the right training.

“They need to have more practical skills because at the moment they’re just not up to it.

“They don’t seem to be being taught the important parts of the trade which means I can’t take them on.

“They should have more work placements as part of their college course but that might need more funding and resources they haven’t got.”

Mrs Laing said: “If they don’t have one already, every local business in Epping Forest should consider employing an apprentice.

"By giving young people a chance, businesses will also be boosting their bottom line."

The news follows last month’s launch of the Investors in Young People Business Awards, a scheme which recognises businesses in the district working with 14 to 16-year-olds.