YWT finds 2 in 5 are paying to do apprenticeships

Thursday 2 November 2017

Young Women’s Trust finds 2 in 5 are paying to do apprenticeships, while women apprentices face 8% pay gap

YWTA new report by Young Women’s Trust to mark the midway point in the Government’s apprenticeship target has found that two in five apprentices spend more money completing their apprenticeship than they earn – and women face an eight per cent gender pay gap. 

The report, ‘Young Women and Apprenticeships: Still Not Working’, which draws on a survey of 500 apprentices, found that, after paying for work clothes, travel and childcare, many apprentices have no money left to live on. More than half of apprentices, who can be paid as little as £3.50 an hour, struggle to cover basic living costs and transport to work. Many were put off doing an apprenticeship altogether because it wasn’t financially viable. While the Government strives to create three million apprenticeships by 2020, the latest official statistics show that the number of people starting apprenticeships has fallen. 

The situation is harder for young women apprentices, who earn less and are more likely to have childcare costs. On average male apprentices earn £7.25 an hour, compared to women’s £6.67 – an annual difference of more than £1,000. 

Pay differences are often due to gender segregation, which sees women going into sectors that are – wrongly – valued less by society and paid less. For every woman starting an apprenticeship in engineering there are 25 men, and engineering apprentices are paid on average £289 a week. Women are more likely to go into sectors like hairdressing and childcare, where the average weekly pay is £161 and £206 respectively. 

Parents especially are struggling. Three in five apprentices with children say their apprenticeship costs more than they earn. A lack of part-time and flexible apprenticeships means many struggle to fit their family around work. 36 per cent of apprentices are receiving some form of state benefit while completing their training.

Young Women’s Trust is calling for urgent action to make apprenticeships work for women. The charity’s recommendations include: 

  1. Significantly increasing the apprentice minimum wage, so more people can afford to undertake apprenticeships
  2. Providing bursaries to support young people to train in key sectors.
  3. Working with local authorities to ensure apprentices are able to access childcare support even when working part-time, including ensuring local provision is adequately funded and available.
  4. Extending Care to Learn eligibility to apprentices and increasing the upper age limit to 25.
  5. Providing more apprenticeships on a flexible and part-time basis to help people balance family and work. 

Young Women’s Trust chief executive Dr Carole Easton OBE said: 

“If the Government is to meet its target of creating three million apprenticeships by 2020 and plug the UK’s skills gap, it must take action to make apprenticeships work for young women. 

“Young women can struggle to start and stay in apprenticeships due to low pay, a lack of support and gender stereotypes that shut them out of vital sectors like construction and engineering.  

“Young Women’s Trust would like to see clear pathways made available to young people with low or no qualifications, so they can start apprenticeships and progress to the higher levels. Much greater provision of part-time and flexible apprenticeships would also help young mothers and carers in particular, who often have to balance care with work, to start and stay in apprenticeships. 

“The Government must also raise the apprentice minimum wage if it is serious about supporting more young people into apprenticeships. Lots of young people tell us they can’t afford to do an apprenticeship; the £3.50 an hour minimum wage barely covers the bus to work, let alone bills and rent. It’s time the Government made apprenticeships work for young people.” 


Notes to editor: 

  1. Young Women’s Trust supports and represents women aged 16-30 trapped by low or no pay and facing a life of poverty. The charity provides services and runs campaigns to make sure that the talents of young women don't go to waste.
  2. The charity released ‘Young Women and Apprenticeships: Still Not Working’ on Thursday 2 November 2017 to report on progress that has been made since the charity first conducted research into how to make apprenticeships work for young women in 2016.
  3. For the report, Young Women’s Trust commissioned ComRes to interview 500 current or recent apprentices in Great Britain online between 26th July and 11th August 2017. Data were weighted by age and gender. The survey found that:

a)    43 per cent said the costs associated with doing an apprenticeship such as travel to work, buying clothing or paying for childcare, are higher than their earnings as an apprentice;

b)    the average hourly pay for men is £7.25, compared to £6.67 for women – an eight per cent gender pay gap;

c)    the mean number of hours contracted to work per week is 36 hours; and

d)    a woman apprentice working 36 hours a week on average pay would therefore earn £1,085.76 less over the course of a year than a man working the same hours on the male average pay.

  1. The latest Apprenticeship Pay Survey, released by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy this year, shows that the average weekly rate of basic pay for apprentices in the female-dominated framework of hairdressing and childcare was £161 and £206 respectively. This compares to £289 for engineering and £290 for electro-technical apprenticeships, which are heavily male-dominated.
  2. Apprentices are legally entitled to £3.50 an hour, which is £4 an hour less than the National Living Wage. Research shows that, in some cases, apprentices are being given the same responsibilities and work load as non-apprentices.
  3. Young Women’s Trust commissioned YouGov to carry out a survey of HR decision-makers. The total sample size was 800 employees with HR decision-making responsibility. The fieldwork was undertaken between 5th April and 3rd May 2017. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of the UK business population by sector and size. The survey found that 75 per cent say the National Minimum Wage for apprentices is too little to live on, including 72 per cent of small- and medium-sized employers.
  4. Young Women’s Trust commissioned Populus Data Solutions to conduct a survey of young people. A representative sample of 4,010 18-30 year-olds in England and Wales, from the Populus Live Online Panel, were surveyed between 4 and 14 July 2017. The survey found that:

a)    62 per cent who left school to go to university or other work or training said that the low levels of pay was one of the key reasons for them not following an apprenticeship route; and

b)    the most popular policy to help young people was raising the apprentice minimum wage (supported by 83 per cent).

  1. Government data released on 12 October 2017 shows that the number of people starting apprenticeships has fallen. Between May and July 2017, the number of apprenticeship starts was 43,600, compared to 113,000 in the same period the previous year – a 61 per cent decrease.
  2. For more information or to speak to a young apprentice, please contact Joe Levenson on Joe.Levenson@youngwomenstrust.org or 07495 981142.