17th February 2017
Who is the apprenticeship wage for?
Employing an apprentice is a great idea to help you grow your small business.
The minimum apprenticeship wage in 2017 is £3.50 per hour.
The new minimum wage will apply from April 2017 and is 10p higher than 2016’s wage for apprentices.
This wage is for all apprentices under 19 years old, or over the age of 19 and in the first year of their apprenticeship.
Once an apprentice turns 19, as long as they have completed the first year of their apprenticeship, they’ll be entitled to minimum wage. In 2017 this is £5.60 for 18-20 year olds, £7.05 for 21-24 year olds and £7.50 for 25+ year olds.
The history of the apprenticeship wage
The apprenticeship wage was introduced in 2010. At that time, it was set at £2.50.
In 2011 it increased to £2.60. At that point, wage increase slowed down. The rate was £2.65 in 2012, £2.68 in 2013 and £2.73 in 2014.
In 2015, the apprenticeship wage rose considerably to £3.30 per hour and stayed at that level until October 2016. At this point, it rose to £3.40 per hour.
What exactly is an apprentice?
Apprenticeships provide on-the-job training, working towards qualifications. Usually, apprentices will study for one day a week and gain the practical understanding with a related business or company.
An apprenticeship might last just one year, in which case the apprenticeship wage will apply throughout.
They can last up to four years, which (along with minimum wage increases) will usually mean that the apprentices have multiple pay increases by the time they have earned their qualification.
Apprenticeships are available to people over the age of 16. Many apprentices work to become plumbers or electricians, or to learn another manual trade. Some learn office jobs, such as administration or accountancy.
Public opinion of the apprenticeship wage
The apprenticeship wage is not without its controversy.
Even the apprenticeship wage 2017 is less than 50% of the same year’s National Living Wage, which is set at £7.50.
Some argue that apprenticeship wages are exploitative. But, for younger workers, they can provide access to valuable on-the-job training at a time when high wages are not necessary.
Even older apprentices may benefit from this option. Though the income is modest, an apprenticeship allows people to learn a trade without the expense associated with other types of qualification.
Earning £3.50 per hour whilst learning on-the-job skills may be preferable to paying £9,000 per year for a university degree.
Even most college courses come at a cost for adult learners.
Even though the apprenticeship wage is relatively low, and isn’t going to be enough to pay for an independent lifestyle, it is important to remember that it’s temporary. Even the youngest apprentices will only be earning such a low figure for up to three years. Many apprentices are only on the apprenticeship wage for a year.
Once they’re qualified, apprentices may already have a secured job within the company that they’ve trained with. In fact, 64% stay with the same employer once they’ve completed their apprenticeship;
Often, these skilled trades pay salaries of around £30k. Even if an immediate job isn’t available, it’s easier to find employment with practical experience to back up a CV.
Are all apprenticeships equal?
There are different levels of apprenticeship.
Intermediate Level apprenticeships are roughly equivalent to 5 GCSE qualifications.
Advanced Level apprenticeships are roughly equivalent to two A-Level passes.
Higher Apprenticeships can lead to a Foundation Degree or NVQ Level 4.
Degree Apprenticeships allow the learners to achieve a Bachelor’s Degree, or a Master’s Degree, whilst receiving their on-the-job training.
There are not different levels of pay. All apprentices receive the same apprenticeship wage, no matter which qualification they’re working towards.
Most people can apply for Intermediate Level apprenticeships. If you want to work towards a higher level of qualification, then there may be some prerequisites such as existing GCSEs or A-Levels.
How many hours will an apprentice work?
Apprentices are generally expected to work at least 30 hours a week. This means that, before tax, they’ll be taking home roughly £105 per week through 2017.
They can work less, but must do at least 16 hours per week.
Apprentices are also paid for their classroom hours, or college hours, by their employer.
What else is an apprentice entitled to?
As well as a minimum apprenticeship wage, all apprentices are entitled to other employment benefits.
They should receive sick pay and holiday pay, and will also have access to any other workplace schemes such as healthcare and childcare vouchers.
Apprentices are also afforded the same rights as all other workers in the event of redundancy, or similar.
Do all apprentices earn the apprenticeship wage 2017 if they’re under 19 years old?
Anyone that is under the age of 19, or over that age and in the first year of their apprenticeship, must earn at least £3.50 per hour from April 2017.
This is a legal requirement, the same as the National Minimum Wage for other workers.
£3.50 is a minimum, not a maximum. Employers can choose to offer more money, going above and beyond the lowest legal requirement.
In many cases, apprentices are given raises by their employers as they increase their skill and experience. Apprentices will become more valuable as they can take on more responsibility, and do the more difficult tasks.
The average apprentice in the UK earns around £170 weekly. This is considerably higher than the minimum of £105 at 30 hours per week.
What if the apprenticeship wage 2017 is simply not high enough?
Most apprentices are young adults that have the option to house share, or to live at home with parents or guardians.
If your apprenticeship wage is not enough to survive on, you may find that you’re entitled to other benefits and top-ups. These benefits are usually helpful for older apprentices, or those that have dependents.
Visit the entitledto Benefits Calculator if you’d like to find out more.