2014 outlook seems rosier for apprentices and graduates when it comes to jobs, according to business leaders

Apprentices looking for jobs at the end of their fixed periods can expect better prospects next year, according to a new report by business leaders.

Graduates can also expect improved opportunities as more firms look to recruit workers in 2014, the CBI study showed.

It found that more businesses are set to create jobs than not in 2014 for the first time since the start of the recession in 2008.

The report, On The Up, was based on answers from 325 companies employing over a million people.

It found that just over 50% anticipated their workforce being bigger a year from now.

Bosses in Yorkshire and Humberside and the East Midlands displayed the most optimism.

The poll also showed an ongoing safety-first approach to pay.

Over a third of those surveyed plan a wage rise under RPI inflation, while just 7% expect to pay more than this.

Nearly all the firms polled claimed flexible job patterns such as the employment of agency workers, or zero hours contracts, were vital or important to the economy.

Four out of five businesses predicted new job opportunities to open up for youngsters in the year ahead.

Katja Hall, the CBI's chief policy director, said the group is beginning to witness the upturn having an impact on business plans to hire.

Over half of companies will be boosting staff numbers next year, giving more opportunities for young people, Ms Hall added.

She said: "It's good to see jobs being created across most regions, not just London and the South East."

The expert said the country's labour market fared well throughout the recession and pay caution and flexible contracts will carry on reinforcing growth.

Ms Hall went on: "For the UK to remain an attractive place to do business, as the recovery takes hold, wage growth must go hand-in-hand with growth in productivity."

Olly Benzecry, managing director of Accenture, which worked on the study, said the news that companies hope to increase their workforces is another welcome sign of the UK's economic recovery.

Mr Benzecry continued: "The skills agenda is critical to not only sustain this growth but to make it inclusive, increasing employability and opportunities for young people who are not in a job, training or education."

Copyright Press Association 2013