From education to employment

Apprentices call for action on illegal wages

Following the release of the Apprenticeship Pay Survey last week, NUS Scotland and the National Society of Apprentices Scotland (NSOAS) have called for the government to take action against exploitative apprenticeship contracts. The Apprenticeship Pay Survey highlighted that 14% percent of apprentices are being paid less than the minimum wage they were entitled to – up from 13% in 2014.

Currently, apprentices under the age of 19 or in their first year of an apprenticeship are eligible to £3.50 per hour. After this, they’re entitled to the National Minimum or Living Wage for their age group – up to £7.50 for over 25 year olds.

The survey – which was originally scheduled for publication last year – also highlights concerning figures suggesting that over half (55%) of all level 2 and level 3 apprentices are not receiving one day per week training – with this impacting 61% of women and 52% of men.

NUS Scotland is also calling on the Scottish Government to introduce council tax exemption for apprentices – a move that would put more money in their pockets and help ensure they have enough support to complete their studies.

Commenting, Frankie Linn, a member of the National Society of Apprentices Scotland’s leadership team, said:

“The UK government may have chosen to delay the release of this survey, but the findings paint the same ugly picture we see repeated every year with apprentices being exploited on contracts paying below the minimum wage. The continuing rise in the number of apprentices being paid below the minimum wage just highlights how urgently the government need to address this injustice.

“The survey also highlights worrying new findings that over half of apprentices are receiving less than a day a week’s training. Apprentices are learners and they must receive the vital training that should come with their apprenticeship.

“We want more young people from a range of backgrounds to see apprenticeships as a viable option – but they must receive a fair wage in return. It’s not acceptable for apprentices to be paid poverty wages below the minimum wage and the Scottish and UK Governments must work together to ensure apprenticeships offered are high quality and crack down on employers found to be breaking the law on wages.

“In addition, the Scottish Government could use the powers they have to act now to exempt apprentices from council tax, putting more money in apprentice pockets and giving them the support they need to complete their course.”

The Apprentice Pay Survey Scotland 2016 can be found here

NUS Scotland has called on the Scottish Government to make apprentices exempt from council tax.

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