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Salaries doubled

The average student recruited to one of the first Modern Apprenticeship pilots is earning more than double the minimum recommended by the Government when it launched the scheme last year.

The lowest recommended weekly rate is Pounds 40, but wages averaged Pounds 98 among apprentices in the North-west interviewed by St Helens Chamber of Commerce Training and Enterprise Council.

The survey gives hope to ministers keen to demonstrate the scheme's growing popularity with employers - more than nine in 10 employers who had used modern apprentices said they were keen to take more on. Two-thirds said they had offered higher standards of training to employees than ever before through introducing the scheme.

Employers added that they would need continued financial help from Government agencies such as the training and enterprise councils.

The cash plus the increased flexibility of education and training on offer under the Modern Apprenticeship were the two key incentives cited by employers.

Of the 166 apprentices who were interviewed, 87 per cent had been able to find apprenticeships in their chosen careers, while 97 per cent said they would recommend the scheme to others.

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