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'Mixed feelings' as apprentices get biggest-ever wage increase

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Full-time apprentices will earn over £1,000 more a year, as wages in the apprenticeship scheme see a largest-ever increase.

The government has announced that the apprentice rate of the minimum wage will today go up by 57 pence per hour to £3.30, meaning that those working full-time – 40 hours per week – will earn £1,185 more per year.

The apprentice rate applies to all 16-18-year-old apprentices, as well as all older apprentices in the first year of training. The new rate, introduced today, goes beyond the Low Pay Commission's recommended £2.80.

However, the Association of Employment and Learning Providers said its members had “very different views about these changes”, which often reflected the sectors they were in.

“No one wants to see the opportunities for apprentices being reduced because the salary costs become too high, but we need to keep apprentice wages in line with increases for other workers,” said chief executive Stewart Segal. 

He continued: “We have always said that the additional support provided to an apprentice does have a cost to employers and this can be reflected in the pay, but if that differential is too high, it can mean apprentices leave or are demotivated by low pay levels.”

The complication of different wages for different groups of trainees “sometimes [leads] to employers paying wages below the minimum”, Mr Segal added.

Business secretary Sajid Javid said the increase for apprentices was “the largest in history, making sure that apprenticeships remain an attractive option for young people”, while "the national minimum wage will see the largest real-terms increase since 2007”.

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