Pay apprentices what they’re worth, says skills director

The managing director of a nationally recognised skills group has praised the government for raising the national minimum wage for apprentices, but has urged employers to pay their young recruits a higher amount.

 

More opportunities for young learners

Mark Boulting, managing director of Skills Group, a training provider based in Plymouth, feels that more people will consider undertaking an apprenticeship now that there is a bigger monetary incentive.

From October 1st 2015, the apprenticeship sector will experience its biggest ever rise in wages, increasing from £2.73 an hour to £3.30.

This means that young students will earn a minimum of £132 for a 40-hour week, while at the same time learning vital skills that will set them up for a successful career.

‘‘Raising the national minimum wage for apprentices will go some way to making them more attractive to young people, especially now that university tuition fees are so high and the maintenance grant has gone,’’ said Boulting in an interview with the Plymouth Herald.

‘‘I was pleasantly surprised when the government announced the apprenticeship wage increase to £3.30, particularly as they went with a higher hourly wage than the Low Pay Commission had recommended of a rise of 7p to £2.80 per hour.’’

Boulting feels that although the wage increase is great for the sector, work is needed to be done on improving the reputation of apprenticeships in order to get the approval of parents and educators.

‘‘Apprenticeships still don’t appear to be seen by young people, their parents or teachers as a realistic alternative to doing A levels or going to university.’’

The Skills Group director emphasised his point by citing a survey from the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) which found that nine out of ten parents thought apprenticeships were a good idea, but only a third of them would want their child to undertake one.

‘‘As a country we are still reliant on people who, in the main, use their own past experiences and beliefs to provide careers advice and guidance.’’

‘‘We also have an education system that is funded by numbers and not necessarily outcomes or destinations, so we have a long way to go before apprenticeships will be promoted as the norm,’’ continued Boulting.

 

‘We have a long way to go’

Boulting represents an organisation that is currently offering over 180 apprenticeships across Devon and Cornwall – 40 of those provide a pay packet which is considerably higher than the national minimum wage.

The group also makes businesses aware of incentives that could help fund apprenticeships for businesses, including a £1,500 AGE Incentive Grant for companies that hire less than 50 employees.

‘‘At Skills Group, we encourage our employers to pay what they genuinely believe their apprentices are worth and the value the apprentice brings to the business – not what they think they can get away with,’’ said Boulting.

‘‘The apprenticeship wage recognises that the individual is still in training, but as an employer you get a loyal and hardworking member of staff, who you can train to meet the specific needs of your business.’’

If you’re unsure about an apprenticeship wage, check out our top tips article which will tell you everything you need to know about earning money as an apprentice.