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The Top Family Business Apprentice Employers 2023




Family Business United has compiled a list of the Top 15 Family Business Apprentice Employers for 2023 to demonstrate the contribution that family firms across the UK are making to employing apprentices and their investment in the next generation of employees.

Submissions were received from all corners of the UK and the top 15 represent the best in terms of number of apprentices, the creation of new apprenticeships and the number of apprentices completing and graduating from their apprenticeship programme in the year to June 2023.


Key findings:

  • Bagnalls come out on top as the overall top family business apprentice employer in the UK

  • JCB top the list when it comes to employing the most apprentices in the UK by a family business

  • The top 15 family business apprentice employers in the UK collectively employed 798 apprentices with 473 starting an apprenticeship and 164 concluding their course in the year to June 2023.

  • Hodgkinsons have the highest proportion of apprentices amongst their workforce.


The top family business apprentice employers in the UK are:

  1. Bagnalls

  2. Hodgkinsons Builders

  3. JCT600

  4. Bell Contracting Ltd

  5. Simpsons Malt Limited

  6. Hendy Group

  7. JCB

  8. Arco Ltd

  9. The Clancy Group

  10. GAP Group

  11. Sound Leisure ltd

  12. Frederic Robinson Ltd

  13. Bailie Group

  14. WH Malcolm

  15. Allied Vehicles Group


As Ellie Jobes, HR Director at Bagnalls is delighted to be top of the list adding: "Bagnalls have been employing apprentices since 1877. Our recent intake of apprentices means that we now have around 13% of our workforce studying for apprenticeships. These include those undertaking their Level 2 Painting and Decorating apprenticeship, as well as staff undertaking apprenticeships in HR, Accountancy, Construction Site Supervision and Project Management, amongst others."


"Apprenticeships are a proven method of recruiting and training a dedicated and skilled workforce, with many generations of the same family often starting their careers with us as apprentices."


"30% of our employees are current or former Bagnalls apprentices. These include two members of our Board of Directors, and half of our Branch Managers."

"We are delighted to be the top family business apprenticeship employer. This underlines our commitment to supporting our employees into long-term, worthwhile careers through apprenticeships," concludes Ellie.


Ben Tucker, Learning & Development Coordinator at Simpsons Malt Limited is in full agreement. As Ben explains: "Our apprentices bring wealth and value to our business, allowing us to grow as a company and take important steps towards becoming a learning organisation."


"Apprenticeships are fantastic platforms that allow individuals to upskill while continuing their daily work, and the broad range available allow us to apply apprenticeship programmes to all aspects of our diverse business."

Apprenticeships are seen as a rich source of craftsmanship, worthy of ongoing investment and it is great to see the number of apprentices in the top report increasing year on year. As Ian Hodgkinson, Managing Director of Hodgkinson Builders continues: "Our apprentices are an investment in our future. By hiring youngsters at the start of their career, we are safeguarding not only future skills, but also the long-term growth of our business. I am proud to say that a quarter of my team, both men and women, started as apprentices with Hodgkinson Builders, and they are truly invaluable."


The businesses in the report represent sectors of the economy that include property and construction, manufacturing and engineering, motor retail, consulting services and food and drink mirroring the growth and availability of apprenticeships in sectors away from where they may have been more traditionally aligned in the past.


As Paul Andrews, Founder and CEO of Family Business Untied concludes: "Family businesses are innovative and entrepreneurial and it is great to see so many providing apprenticeships within their organisations."

"This is our second report and it clearly highlights the growing importance of apprenticeships to family firms across the UK and the continuing commitment from leading family businesses to continue to invest in the ongoing development of the next generation of their staff. There are significant numbers of apprenticeships opportunities available within the family business sector in the UK today and as outlined below, they provide a fantastic stepping stone into a career with long term development opportunities that may even take you to a board position in the future."


"It is a privilege to be able to highlight the positive contribution that family firms are making by way of apprenticeships and to shine a light once more on the fantastic way that the family business sector is embracing learning and development within the way that they operate."

Download and see the full 2023 report here:

Top Family Business Apprentice Employers 2023
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