The national minumum wage for apprentices will rise by 10p an hour next year, the government has confirmed.
From April, apprentices will receive £3.50 an hour, up from the current rate of £3.40 an hour, according to the official document published alongside chancellor Philip Hammond's autumn statement.
The latest increase will be the second rise in six months. It comes after the minimum wage for apprentices increased from £3.30 an hour to £3.40 on 1 October.
'A much-needed pay rise'
The increase was praised by the Learning and Work Institute. “We welcome the announcement of a further rise in the national living wage, to £7.50, and a rise in the apprentices rate to £3.50," said Tony Wilson, the institute's director of policy and research. "This will give a much-needed pay rise to over one million low paid workers.
"However it is essential that we also tackle the drivers of low pay and low productivity in our economy. So we regret the fact that the new £23 billion National Productivity Investment Fund does not recognise the importance of skills and training as a key part of solving the UK’s productivity problem and raising living standards. So we would like to see the fund extended, to allow for targeted investment that could improve our skills infrastructure – including in-work support, basic and technical skills.”
According to the 2014 apprentice pay survey, one in seven apprentices received less than the minimum wage.
In his first interview after being appointed apprenticeships and skills minister, Robert Halfon told TES he supported the creation of a national living wage for apprentices.
David Hughes, chief executive of the Association of Colleges, said: “The increase in the apprentice minimum wage is a very modest one and will not address some of the access issues which we would like to see addressed. Many people will not be able to access an apprenticeship at that wage due to prohibitive travel costs, for instance; others such as care leavers will struggle to live independently on those wages.
“When the apprenticeship levy is introduced next year, we would like to see more investment to ensure in access and quality to ensure that every apprentice has the best possible start to their career. The government is keen to improve the reputation of the apprenticeship programme and further education colleges can help to achieve this through the education and training they provide for apprentices and employers.”