Two out five apprentices are paying more to study on an apprenticeship programme than they earn in salary, a new report by the Young Women’s Trust has revealed.
According to the organisation's Young Women and Apprenticeships: Still Not Working report, 40 per cent of apprentices are spending more money on undertaking an apprenticeship programme – including outlays for extras such as like work clothes, travel and childcare – than they get paid for their apprenticeship. The current national minimum wage for apprentices is £3.50 an hour. Three out of five apprentices with parenting responsibilities say their apprenticeship costs more than what they get paid.
The report, which surveyed 500 apprentices, also identifies a gender pay gap of 8 per cent between female and male apprentices. It shows that, on average, male apprentices earn £7.25 an hour compared to £6.67 for women – an annual difference of more than £1,000.
The Young Women’s Trust's recommendations include increasing the national minimum wage for apprentices, providing bursaries for those in need, and creating more apprenticeships on a flexible and part-time basis.
'The government must take action'
Last month skills minister Anne Milton criticised employers for being in the "dark ages" for refusing to look at flexible and part-time hours for women with caring responsibilities who would otherwise want to embark on an apprenticeship.
Dr Carole Easton, chief executive of the Young Women’s Trust, said: “If the government is to meet its target of creating 3 million apprenticeships by 2020 and plug the UK’s skills gap, it must take action to make apprenticeships work for young women. Young women can struggle to start and stay in apprenticeships due to low pay, a lack of support and gender stereotypes that shut them out of vital sectors like construction and engineering."
She added: “[The] Young Women’s Trust would like to see clear pathways made available to young people with low or no qualifications, so they can start apprenticeships and progress to the higher levels. Much greater provision of part-time and flexible apprenticeships would also help young mothers and carers in particular, who often have to balance care with work, to start and stay in apprenticeships.”