NUS report condemns “exploitative” apprentice wage

A new report, ‘Forget Me Not’, from the National Union of Students, has said that apprentices are paid “exploitative” rates and must receive at least the national minimum wage if the programme is to solve youth unemployment.

Currently, the apprentice minimum wage is £2.73 an hour for 16 to 18-year-olds, and 19-year-olds in their first year. The NUS argues that this is not enough to cover basic living expenses and many apprentices end up taking on another job to pay the bills.

The government is considering raising apprentices’ pay by £1 an hour.

The report says: “Apprenticeships are often framed as a chance to ‘earn whilst you learn’. They supposedly offer a chance to gain a skill and a qualification whilst working in a ‘real ‘job with a wage. Yet for many apprentices their low wages quickly disappear on travel, rent and food.”

Joe Vinson, NUS Vice President (Further Education), said: “This report shows that we could have a whole generation being shut out of vocational education because of financial constraints. I hope that our report will trigger a serious investigation into the financial well-being of apprentices and lead all political parties to commit to making apprenticeships more accessible for all. Nobody is talking about the everyday reality for individual apprentices.”