Four young apprentices have formed a campaign group calling for improved quality apprenticeships for all participants.

Katie Fiddaman, aged 19 from Ascot, Dexter Hutchings, aged 20 from Epsom, Niamh Mulhall, aged 19 from Chichester and Reece Simwogerere, aged 23 from Tulse Hill, founded The Apprentice Voice (TAV) to create a platform for apprentices to have their voices heard by decision makers.

TAV aims to give a collective voice to apprentices by carrying out surveys and research and then lobbying on the issues raised. The first survey has been running for just over a month and focuses on four key areas:

  1. How to ensure employers meet their obligation to allow 20% off the job training
  2.  The prohibitive cost of travel for young apprentices for whom the national minimum wage doesn’t apply; employers need only pay £3.90 per hour
  3.  Challenging preconceptions about apprenticeships and stereotypical views of apprentices
  4. The lack of opportunity for apprentices to meet informally, develop social networks and share their experiences.

The group of apprentices said,

‘An apprenticeship is a great way to kick start your career. Not only are you learning, but you have the advantage of practical experience in the workplace which is so valuable to future employers. Apprentices earn more two years after finishing their apprenticeship than university students do five years after they graduate, but most young people don’t know what a great opportunity an apprenticeship can be.

‘When you’re at school, it’s actually quite hard to get information about apprenticeships because careers advisors and teachers tend to push you towards A-levels and university. We want to challenge the biased notions that all apprentices wear overalls and for apprenticeships to be recognised as a viable and valuable learning route for people interested in all sorts of careers. Part of that is ensuring that employers and training providers are working together to ensure their apprenticeship offer is of a high enough quality.’

Employers are obliged to allow apprentices to spend a fifth of their time – effectively a day a week – receiving teaching or training. Some small businesses say this is a challenge as they are reluctant to lose a member of staff for that period of time. TAV say another concern is cost of travel for some apprentices.

Grace Payne, a Digital Marketing apprentice, says:

‘I have to commute into London on a daily basis and the cost can be prohibitive. I’m lucky because my employer is paying me more than the minimum they are obliged to, however, this isn’t the case for many apprentices. The travel discounts apprentices currently receive is dependent on their home address and is only available for one year, which is not good enough for apprentices such as myself completing three year courses. An apprenticeship can be an opportunity into education, training and employment for young people from the most disadvantaged backgrounds, but travel costs can be a barrier.’

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Apprentices can have their voices heard by completing The Apprentice Voice survey which is live until 31st July 2019 and takes less than 5 minutes to complete.

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