Should apprentices be paid more?
Apprenticeships are a great way for young people to earn while they learn – but do they earn enough?
All apprentices under 19 or in the first year of their apprenticeship are entitled to the national minimum apprenticeship wage, which is currently £3.70 an hour. Apprentices aged 19 or over earn the minimum wage for their age group – £5.90 aged 18-20, £7.38 aged 21-24, and £7.83 for over 25s. These are set by the Government as the minimum wage apprentices can earn as they’re still learning on the job. Many employers pay over this and it sounds much more economically viable option than going to college or university.
But in reality, young people are struggling to afford apprenticeships – especially in the most deprived areas. Without financial support from their parents, young apprentices have to pay for transport, tools and uniform themselves, which can be impossible on such a low wage.
Some parents can’t afford for their children to do an apprenticeship as they’ll lose money from child benefits. Among other things, this has contributed to low apprenticeship starts in young people. Only 3% of 16-year-olds go into apprenticeships, so it’s obvious that more needs to be done to make apprenticeships attractive to young people.
Employers that hire 16-24-year-old apprentices are given a grant to help fund the training. Perhaps young apprentices should be given a similar incentive by the Government? Or perhaps some of the grant could be passed down via higher wages? Many employers increase their apprentice’s wages after the first year, but maybe a boost in year 1 would help apprentices get by in the beginning.
Things are on the up, but apprenticeships are still suffering from a perception problem. Many young people think apprentices are just for trade roles and are always badly paid – but this isn’t the case. There are 100s of different courses available in all sectors – and although wages could be higher for young people, apprenticeships are one of the only ways young people can be paid to train.
43% of young people said their parents had the biggest influence over their career choices – followed by teachers at 12% and career advisors at 6% – so what parents think matters! Many parents still have an old-fashioned view of apprenticeships and don’t know how much they’ve changed since they were at college. We need to educate parents about all the different opportunities available for their children.
Whether you’re a young person, parent or employer, it’s always good to know what opportunities are out there. To find out more about apprenticeships, what courses are available, and the benefits they bring to businesses and individuals, download our free guide.