Apprentices get Minimum Wage Boost
The minimum pay rate for apprentices has been increased from £80 to £95 per week, in an attempt to encourage more young people into training.
The rise was introduced on 1st August and means that employers are now required to pay apprentices at least £95 a week. While the increase is not legally binding for employers, those that do not comply may find that their Government apprenticeship funding is affected, according to the Trades Union Congress (TUC), which campaigned for the pay rise.
“The rise will particularly benefit female employees, who are most likely to be paid at the lowest rate,” said a TUC spokesman. “While the average UK apprenticeship pay rate is £170 a week, female apprentices in trades such as hairdressing and childcare typically receive much less.”
TUC general secretary, Brendan Barber, added:
“Some of the worst-paid apprentices should now receive a much needed pay increase. The majority of apprentices are well above the minimum rate. But for many trainees, particularly young women, struggling on about £80 a week, an extra £15 will go a long way.”
The Federation of Small Businesses also welcomed the increase, saying that higher wages would help tackle unemployment by incentivising more young people into training.
However, the business lobby group called on the Government to go one step further by raising apprenticeship pay to national minimum wage (NMW) levels for under-18s.
“We want the Government to be bolder,” said FSB education and skills chairman, Colin Willman. “A huge majority of apprenticeships happen in small firms and with youth unemployment soaring, there is a need to create more employment opportunities for young people so they can learn invaluable skills and training at the very beginning of their career.
“We want the Government to raise apprentices’ pay in line with national minimum wage for 16-18 year olds, to help battle rising unemployment,” he added.
Currently, apprentices under the age of 19 and older workers in the first year of an apprenticeship are exempt from the NMW, and are instead reliant upon the minimum contract payment of £95 a week. According to the TUC, around 70% of apprentices are exempt from the NMW.
More information on apprenticeships and pay levels can be found at www.apprenticeships.org.uk