Eight in 10 North East managers see apprentices as an important part of growing business, new research has revealed.
As National Apprenticeship Week launches for another year, it has been shown that having the "right" people and skills are 27 times more important to expansion than access to finance.
Many businesses place apprentices at the heart of their plants to improve - with hiring the right staff being crowned as the most important factor in businesses growth.
And employers in the North East are 33 times as likely to rapidly expand their business. These findings have been revealed thanks to research for the Skills Funding Agency.
More than half of managers in the region's growing firms felt that hiring the right staff or having employees with the right skills was the most important factor in achieving the company's ambitions.
Bethany Johnson, from Durham, works as a service delivery apprentice with BT Openreach.
Speaking of her opportunity, the 20-year-old said: "I applied for the apprenticeship with Openreach after realising that I was capable of so much more than sitting at a desk staring out of the window at the place I used to work.
"That really set the ball rolling, and a few months after I applied, I got invited to an interview. I was ecstatic."
She added: “My experience at BT has brought me nothing but opportunity.
"It is so true what they say, you really do get out what you are prepared to put in. In some ways, even though it has only been four months, I feel like it has made me a better person and my eyes have certainly been opened."
The week-long initiative, which is held every year, launched yesterday at London's Shard. Seven top companies announced major commitments to hiring apprenticeships - and it is hoped that others across the UK will follow their lead.
Those announcing plans included Starbucks, Greene King and BT.
The event is organised by the National Apprenticeship Service.
Sue Husband, director of the service, said: “Young people can ‘get in and go far’ with an apprenticeship at some of Britain’s biggest and brightest companies.
"They can gain the skills and knowledge they need to succeed, in some cases up to degree level, while working and earning.
"We want it to become the norm for young people to consider an apprenticeship as a route to a great career and secure finances in the years ahead."
After finishing an apprenticeship, 90% of young people stay in employment, with seven in ten staying with the same employer, she added.
Around a quarter of former apprentices have also been promoted within 12 months of finishing their role.
For more information throughout this week, follow @Apprenticeships and @TraineeshipsGov on Twitter. You can also follow the conversation using #NAW2016 and #RiseToTheTop.
Click here for more information about National Apprenticeships Week.