Page last updated at 14:27 GMT, Tuesday, 4 August 2009 15:27 UK

Wages up for low-paid apprentices

Trainee mechanics
The TUC says young women apprentices should benefit the most

The minimum pay rate for apprentices has risen from £80 to £95 a week, after the numbers of young people joining the schemes dipped.

The TUC welcomed the change in the pay levels, from 1 August, with young women likely to benefit the most.

However, the average weekly pay for apprentices is more than £170 a week.

Apprentices under the age of 19 and older workers in the first year of an apprenticeship are exempt from the national minimum wage.

Female apprentices in hairdressing and childcare were among the lowest paid, the TUC said.

'Improvement'

"The majority of apprentices are paid well above the minimum rate. But for many trainees, particularly young women, struggling on around £80 a week, an extra £15 will go a long way," said TUC general secretary Brendan Barber.

"The next move must be to protect apprentices with the minimum wage, so that employers cannot exploit young trainees by ignoring the minimum pay rate. At a small cost to employers, this would improve the reputation of apprenticeships and encourage more young people to enrol."

Latest figures showed that the numbers of young people who started apprenticeships in 2008-9 fell in England, although the total number rose.

The number dropped 8.3% among 16 to 18-year-olds to 81,700, and the 68,000 apprenticeships started by those aged 19 to 24 represented a 2% decrease on the year before.

The total was boosted by a near-quadrupling of apprenticeships among the over-25s, to 46,800.



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