Apprentices under the age of 19 or in their first year of apprenticeship may now be paid £4.30 per hour by employers.
Apprentices’ minimum wage is exploitative and inadequate to cover basic living costs. According to the Apprentice Voice survey, published in October 2019, one-third of apprentices questioned spend more than a fifth of their monthly salary on travel, amounting to £795.72 per year on average. In addition, the average monthly rent in the United Kingdom is £967, making it difficult for an apprentice who is not living at home to meet basic expenses.
Why do apprenticeships pay so little?
The apprentice minimum wage was established to encourage companies to employ apprentices, and the low rate reflects the reality that apprentices are still in training. However, the fact that apprentices are “learning on the job” does not negate that they are still doing work and contributing to an organisation’s financial sheet.
The value of apprentices
The value that businesses, education, and government place on apprenticeships are at the heart of this paradox. While our European rivals see apprentices as an investment in their business and the future economy, the notion of an apprenticeship as a second-best option to going to university seems to be dominant in the UK.
The evidence, however, does not support this point of view. On the contrary, businesses that employ apprentices benefit from an average productivity increase of £214 per week or more than £11,000 per year.
Employers are increasingly noting that young people who have just graduated from university often lack critical professional skills and experience. Investing in existing workers and bringing in new talent unlocks potential, develops higher-level skills, enhances performance, and boosts agility.
Employees that get in-house training are more likely to be highly motivated and dedicated to their business. So instead of complaining about talent shortages and the impact on their bottom line, companies must become savvy and recognise the value apprentices bring to the workplace every day.
Your apprentice is the return on investment: a capable, committed employee who adds value to and secures the future of your business.