From education to employment

Overwhelming national support for scrapping ‘unliveable’ apprenticeship wages

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Over three quarters of the public (78 per cent) do not think they could live on the Apprenticeship Minimum Wage, according to new polling by Opinium for the London Progression Collaboration ahead of National Apprenticeship Week.

More than six in 10 people (61 per cent) thought the Apprenticeship Minimum Wage – which is currently £4.81 per hour and will rise to £5.28 per hour in April – is too low. While two-thirds (66 per cent) believe the Apprenticeship Minimum Wage should be replaced by the National Minimum Wage.

Though legislation change would benefit young people at the beginning of their careers the most, over-65s were the strongest supporters of scrapping the Apprenticeship Minimum Wage, with 71 per cent in favour.

The London Progression Collaboration, which has helped create over 1,200 apprenticeships for low-paid Londoners over the last three years, says that scrapping the Apprenticeship Minimum Wage would be a simpler, fairer approach, which is good for apprentices and their employers.

The Apprenticeship Minimum Wage has placed significant pressure on apprentices, which has been made worse by the cost-of-living crisis, forcing them to quit their apprenticeships and lose out on much-needed qualifications as well as undermine business retention and productivity.

Scrapping the Apprenticeship Minimum Wage and placing apprentices on the National Minimum Wage would support hundreds of thousands of households that are struggling, entitling 18-20-year-olds to £7.49 an hour – an increase of 42 per cent – or over-23s to at least £10.42 per hour – an increase of 97 per cent.

Doing so would also make it simpler for employers to ensure they’re complying with National Minimum Wage legislation. In 2020, the Low Pay Commission reported high levels of non-compliance, with 8,800 apprenticeships paid less than the Apprenticeship Minimum Wage in 2019, rising from 8,300 in 2018. 

Anna Ambrose, Director of the London Progression Collaboration, said:

“Apprentices are entitled to a fair wage and the Government needs to protect them by scrapping the Apprenticeship Minimum Wage.

“Employers that pay Apprenticeship Minimum Wage not only place real pressure on apprentices, forcing them to quit their apprenticeships and lose out on much-needed qualifications, but they also undermine business retention and productivity.

“There are skills shortages across the country in social care, construction and hospitality. If the Government is serious about protecting the vulnerable, building new homes and saving the high street, upskilling our national workforce is essential.”

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