The government should deliver on its promise to support apprentices with their travel cost, the TUC has urged.
Introducing significantly discounted bus and train travel for apprentices to ensure that no young person was deterred from an apprenticeship due to travel costs was a Conservative Party manifesto pledge over two years ago, but has not been implemented.
Background: MPs call for crackdown on low apprentice pay
Barriers to starting an apprenticeship
In December last year, the government said in a response to a committee report that it recognised that travel costs “can sometimes be a barrier to young people who want to start an apprenticeship” but made no commitments other than to say it will write to the committee in the coming weeks and continue working with the Department for Transport to find a solution.
But earlier this month, new children’s minister Kemi Badenoch said in response to a written question that the Department for and the Department for Transport were “currently preparing a joint proposal for discounted public transport, including bus and train travel, for apprentices”.
According to a new TUC report published today – as students receive their GCSE results –apprentices receive less financial help with travel than those who remain at school. The report calls on the government to implement a national travel discount for all apprentices and sets out ideas for how it should work, citing the example of England metro mayoralties that have already delivered travel passes for apprentices.
In the Liverpool City Region, for example, the travel discount scheme saves apprentices up to £420 a year on bus fares and up to £680 on train fares. In Manchester and London young apprentices are eligible for free bus travel.
The TUC report also calls for the minimum wage for apprentices to be boosted to youth minimum wage rates. Apprentices can currently earn as little as £3.90 an hour if they’re aged under 19 or in the first year of their apprenticeship.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Apprenticeships should be affordable for all. But many apprentices face the double whammy of low pay and high travel costs.
“There’s no good reason why apprentices should be left worse off than other students. The government must deliver on its promise to help every apprentice with their travel costs. It would help more apprentices complete their studies. And it would ensure Britain has the skills we need for the future.”