Just 1 in 5 MPs think apprentice minimum wage is enough to live on

Monday 5 March 2018

Just one in five MPs think the apprentice minimum wage is enough to live on, finds Young Women’s Trust

YWTJust one in five MPs think the apprentice minimum wage is enough to live on, a Young Women’s Trust survey shows on the first day of National Apprenticeship Week. Fewer than half (45 per cent) said they would encourage someone to undertake a job paid £3.50 an hour – the apprentice minimum wage.

This is despite MPs firmly believing that more young people should take on apprenticeships, with 83 per cent saying they are concerned that some young people are encouraged to go to university when an apprenticeship may be more appropriate.

Young Women’s Trust research shows that apprentices are some of the hardest hit financially, with two in five spending more on the role than they earn. The charity polled apprentices and found that half struggle to cover basic living costs and transport to work. Others have told the charity that they were put off doing an apprenticeship altogether because it wasn’t financially viable.

The legal apprentice minimum wage of £3.50 an hour falls far short of the Government’s £7.50 National Living Wage, leaving apprentices £7,280 a year worse off than workers aged 25 and over. Young Women’s Trust has found that, in some cases, apprentices on the minimum wage are being exploited by being given the same work and responsibilities as non-trainee workers.

A separate survey of more than 4,000 young people by the charity found that raising the apprentice minimum wage was one of the most popular ideas the Government could implement. The policy was supported by 83 per cent of respondents and was more popular than abolishing university tuition fees, which 59 per cent agreed with.

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

“Young people – and especially young women – are being shut out of apprenticeships by low pay. Their wage barely covers the bus to work, let alone bills and rent. Even MPs agree that the £3.50 apprentice minimum wage is not enough to live on.

“If it is serious about supporting more people into apprenticeships, the Government must significantly raise the apprentice minimum wage.

“Creating a system that makes apprenticeships attractive and accessible to a wider range of people will bring huge benefits to employers and the economy as a whole. It’s time the Government made apprenticeships work for young people.” 

ENDS

 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. Young Women’s Trust commissioned ComRes to conduct a survey of 157 MPs between 4 and 29 January 2018. Data were weighted to be representative of the House of Commons by party and region. The survey found that:

a) one in five MPs (22 per cent) think the apprentice minimum wage is enough to live on. The majority of MPs (63 per cent) disagree that the apprentice minimum wage is enough to live on;

b) fewer than half (45 per cent) said they would encourage someone aged 16-19 to undertake a job paid £3.50 an hour – the apprentice minimum wage; and

c)  83 per cent of MPs are concerned that some young people are encouraged to go to university when an apprenticeship may be more appropriate

3. 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. The apprentice minimum wage is set to rise at the start of April to £3.70 but will still not cover apprentices’ costs.

4.  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 42 per cent – or two in five – said their apprenticeship cost them more than they earned. The survey also found that around half of current and recent apprentices struggled to cover basic living costs (48 per cent) or travel.

5. 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).

6. For more information or to speak to a young apprentice, please contact Bex Bailey on bex.bailey@youngwomenstrust.org or 07963018281.

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