From education to employment

Young People “Need to Make Right Choices”, says Skills Minister Phil Hope

A survey of apprentices has shown that the participants on schemes approved by the Government are taking home about £500 each month.

The highest earners within this survey ““ the survey covers some 5,500 work-based apprentices ““ can be found in the electro technical sector, where apprentices are receiving an average pay of £183 per week. The research also highlighted the continuing gender segregation in many sectors, with an average gap of £40 per week between male and female apprentices.

The Survey’s Findings

The survey’s 5,500 interviews were carried out between March and May 2005. They were interviews with apprentices in the eleven sectors with the highest numbers of apprentices. The sectors are as follows: Business Administration, Construction, Customer Service, Early Years Care and Education, Electro technical, Engineering Manufacturing, Hairdressing, Health and Social Care, Hospitality, Motor Industry and Retail.

The research was commissioned by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) from BMRB Social Research to gain information concerning the pay that is received by waged trainees while they are on an Apprenticeship. This is the first time information on earnings has been made available for apprenticeships by the various sectors concerned, and comes at a time when c major change in pay guarantees for trainees will come into action. Apprentices aged 16-18 are currently exempt from the National Minimum Wage requirements, but from August 2005 there has been a contractually-required level of weekly pay of £80.

The survey shows employers are ahead of this level on average, paying an average of £137 per week. However, as was mentioned above, there remains considerable disparity in pay between the sexes. The report presents data analysing pay by age and sex. On average, male trainees receive a take home pay of £153 per week compared to female trainees who earn £113 per week.

Ministerial Response

Skills Minister Phil hope MP welcomed the news on the general level of remuneration for apprentices, saying: “More young people than ever before are choosing Apprenticeships as a way of picking up highly marketable skills quickly and starting to earn as they learn their profession. The research shows that Apprentices can make significant earnings whilst training.”

However, he does not see this as the end of the road, with work to be done to ensure that young people have the right information available when they come to choose a career path. He said: “Young people need to make the right choices about the Apprenticeships to take up, and knowing about potential earnings is a vital part of their decision.” He went on to state that the advisors working for the Government’s advice agency in this, Connexions, would be given this information to use in making sure that “young people can be given more information about the pay in different sectors.”

Equality Needs Work

Jenny Watson, Acting Chair of the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), welcomed this latest report but highlighted the difficulties faced with regards to equality and opportunity, saying: “Young people should not have their career options and future pay limited by a lack of information.

“We know that eight in ten girls and over half of boys say theyd like to try a non-traditional career ““ yet fewer than 2% of construction apprentices are female. The young people involved in our investigation were very clear that better information about pay levels would have prompted them to think again about their choices, so we are delighted to see this new initiative which picks up one of our recommendations following the research. We hope its the first of many through which the government can open doors for young people into non-traditional roles.”

This was echoed by Frances O”Grady, Deputy General Secretary of the Trades Unions Congress (TUC), who said: “While the findings of the research are largely encouraging it is essential that all apprentices get high quality training, support at work and good pay to encourage them to stay the distance. We must also ensure that there is not a huge disparity at this early stage between the earnings in so-called jobs for the boys and jobs for the girls. Our new leaflet for apprenticeships sets out their rights as an apprentice.”

Jethro Marsh

Jobs for the boys? Tell us about your experiences in the FE Blog

Related Articles