Nearly half (46%) of respondents from the print industry cited lack of time to devote to trainees as a barrier, while 20% claimed costs were prohibitive and 5% said suitable candidates were lacking.

“There are understandable reasons why many in the print industry are hesitant to invest their time and money into training an apprentice, as the benefits of apprenticeship schemes are not widely documented.

“However, there is some evidence to suggest that they are worth the investment,” said Basil Bannayi, print division managing director at Close Brothers Asset Finance, which carried out the quarterly survey.

Bannayi said that apprenticeships could help businesses by reducing the time and expense of recruiting, boosting productivity and developing a more diverse talent base.

The latest Close Brothers Business Barometer, which surveys small- and medium-sized businesses across the UK, attracted 772 respondents of which 75 were from the print industry.

Of those, around a third had turnovers between £250,000 and £750,000, a third were in the £750,000 to £1m bracket, 15% turned over £1m-£5m and a quarter turned over in excess of £5m.

More than half (54%) said that recruiting skilled staff had proved challenging in the past, however of those that were actively running apprenticeships, only 13% said they planned to offer their trainees a permanent position on course completion.

“Apprenticeships can go some way to addressing this problem by establishing a better fit between the skills possessed by the apprentice and those required by the company,” Bannayi said.

He added that the standard of work produced by apprentices was often higher in order to meet assessment targets and that staff retention rates usually showed improvement because trainees felt a loyalty to the company.