Employers believe apprentice minimum wage should be doubled

The national minimum wage for apprentices should be increased to £5.00 an hour, say employers.

This is according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s (CIPD) latest Labour Market Outlook survey, which found that employers, on average, felt that apprentices should be awarded a minimum hourly rate of £5.00, nearly double the £2.60 they are currently entitled to.

This varied between industry sectors, with manufacturing firms suggesting that apprentices should be paid a minimum of £5.40 an hour and retail employers saying that the rate should be set at £4.50.

Charles Cotton, reward adviser at the CIPD, told Personnel Today that employers may be keen to see a rise in the apprentice minimum wage in order to improve the image of apprenticeships among school leavers.

“It may be that employers are concerned that the apprenticeship rate doesn’t look as good in comparison with the youth development rate [for workers aged 18 to 20] or the 16 to 17-year-old rate,” Cotton said. “People coming out of school could see the rate that is attached to apprenticeships as indicative that the scheme is of low value and of low importance.

“I think many organisations in our sample are trying to improve the image and status of apprenticeships. They’re promoting them as a gateway for people to improve skills and knowledge, improve pay and potentially lead them into management roles.”

Employers also generally felt that the minimum wage for young people (16 to 17 year olds) should be increased by £1.22 to £4.90 an hour.

In addition, respondents said that the adult minimum wage should be set at £6.60, 52p more than the current rate, and the minimum wage for 18 to 20 year olds should be set at £5.20, 22p higher than its current level.

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