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Apprentices ‘deserve’ minimum wage

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All apprentices should be paid an hourly national minimum wage, the TUC has said.

At the moment, young apprentices under the age of 19 and older apprentices in the first year of their course are not entitled to the national minimum wage.

The TUC wants apprentices to be given three new age-based hourly rates based on a discount of 10 to 15 per cent of the existing minimum wage rates.

These would be: £3-£3.18 for 16-17 year olds; £4.05-£4.29 for 18-20 year olds (19 and 20 in the first year of an apprenticeship only); and £4.87-£5.15 for those aged 21 and above (in the first year of an apprenticeship only).

The TUC said that the minimum wage for apprentices should be set at an hourly, as opposed to a weekly, rate in order to protect against excessive working times.

Brendan Barber, the TUC’s general secretary, commented: “When the government introduced a minimum weekly pay rate for apprentices in 2005, employer groups warned it would scare businesses away from offering training places.

“In fact the reverse happened – apprenticeship starts went up and so did the proportion of apprentices completing their courses.

“By making sure that all apprentices are entitled to an hourly minimum wage, the Low Pay Commission can improve the quality of apprenticeships and help to ensure that more people complete their course.”