TERRY Schofield heard about the Apprenticeship Campaign in 2012 and visited the showcase event to find out more about taking on an apprentice for family business MJM Sports in Bideford.
Terry, who is managing director, said: "I could have done with an apprentice last year, but my phone calls weren't returned and I was getting nowhere with my inquiries.
"As regional vice-chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses I can see that business people are just too busy and the colleges aren't connecting with the smaller employers.
"Once I had contacted Sarah Grigg, employment and skills manager who is responsible for the local Apprenticeships Campaign, she responded in an hour-and-a-half, offering me an employer information pack with guidance on a variety of training providers.
"Within the same day Education And Training Skills, (ETS), had been in touch. Within three months the apprenticeship was sorted."
Simon Mills, business development manager at ETS, said: "We first made contact with Terry in August 2013 to see if we could offer a tailored apprenticeship programme to suit his needs. We discussed his needs and over a series of meetings we explained the options before agreeing to proceed with recruitment."
ETS supported MJM during the recruitment process, which included a test to demonstrate candidates' abilities.
Harriet Knock, 16, was the successful candidate and started her intermediate apprenticeship in customer service on January 6.
Harriet said: "ETS has been very supportive. I have regular appointments every four to six weeks.
"Everything is explained, including how they mark my progress."
MJM and ETS believe Harriet's training will improve the company's high standard of customer service further and support its continued expansion.