From this Friday, 1 October 2010, apprentices under the age of 19 will no longer be exempt from a National Minimum Wage.
In its place, the government has introduced a new £2.50 per hour wage for all apprentices under the age of 19 and for first year apprentices that are over 19.
This move has been welcomed by training providers and employers alike who understand the value of work-based learning in this current economic climate. The chance for young apprentices to get paid for time working plus time spent training is an indicator of how apprentices are adding value to their selected industries, and to the overall UK economy.
Fit for Sport is one such employer, and as their operations director Craig Jones explains, the new National Minimum Wage does not mean that apprentices were not valued previously: “The increase in the minimum wage for apprentices reflects the value that we passionately believe Apprentices can give to an employer.
“As an employer we already pay higher than the ‘increased wage’ as we are committed to ensuring the staff feel valued and are paid in accordance with their roles and responsibilities. Although an apprentice is gaining the knowledge, training and experience required to fulfil their role, they still remain vital in delivering our messaging and representing our brand.”
The value that organisations such as Fit for Sport hold for their apprentices is reflected in their overall value to the UK economy. A one per cent increase in training for example, is worth around £6 billion a year to the UK economy. Investment in work-based learning will lead to a highly skilled workforce and a better sport and active leisure sector for the public to enjoy.
At financial year end 2009, SkillsActive and its training providers issued over 3,300 Apprenticeship certificates and over 1,000 young apprentice certificates. In addition to this, SkillsActive has helped create around 2,500 new jobs for young people with another 5,000 new apprentices beginning or planning to begin courses. SkillsActive operations director John Thorpe discusses the positive affect that the new National Minimum Wage could have within the sector: “Employers across the sport and active leisure sector have identified that recruitment, retention and the upskilling of its staff as key priorities.
“SkillsActive wants to see our sector attract the best people and be fruitful in employment choice. We see the introduction of the National Minimum Wage for apprentices as a very positive step to establish the apprenticeship route alongside the more traditional academic pathways.”
John went on to say: “Most employers would agree that the single biggest asset a business has at its disposal is the loyalty and talent of its staff. However, this isn’t something that can be bought or developed overnight. It takes time and commitment from the employer to invest in staff development.
“In our sector we have seen a steady growth in young people completing their apprenticeship as employers are increasingly realising the business benefits of investing in Apprenticeships. Through increased productivity, minimised staff turnover and a high quality of work being produced, apprentices can repay their worth to their companies many times over.”
In today’s challenging times, and particularly as we prepare for the upturn, Apprenticeships are a vital way of improving the skills of staff and generating a committed and valuable workforce.
For a full comprehensive summary of the new Apprenticeship National Minimum Wage and how it may affect you as an employer, please visit the apprenticeship pages on the BIS website.