From the start of this month (October) the national minimum apprenticeship wage increases by 20%. South Leicestershire College - which has one of the largest apprenticeship recruitment services in the East Midlands - hopes the jump in basic salary will help some young learners and employers think again about the benefits of apprenticeships.
The new legislation sees hourly rates for apprenticeships increase from £2.73 to £3.30 per hour, meaning a 40-hour week would earn at least £132. It comes as more universities introduce higher tuition fees and the government withdraws the maintenance grant for those students needing financial assistance.
Apprenticeships are now available in many industry sectors, from Beauty Therapy and Business to Childcare, Engineering and Motor Vehicle, plus many more, and are increasingly seen as a viable alternative to university. In Leicestershire, the advanced manufacturing and engineering (AME) industry is one of the biggest in the country and organisations of all sizes are looking to apprenticeships as a way to address their growing skills gaps. According the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership, almost 90% of AME firms in the region are predicting growth over the next three years. However, 60% state that skills gaps are threatening to derail this optimism. Particular areas of concern are technical and production related skills.
Presently 14% of AME companies employ apprentices, but they state many more are needed in the technical skill areas to maintain growth and address an ageing workforce.
Laurel Penrose, Deputy Chief Executive at the College, commented: “The increase in the national apprenticeship minimum wage is very welcome. It is vital that we offer our young people options into employment and further training, connecting education with the workplace. Modern apprenticeships are a real alternative now for students to the more traditional A-level and higher education pathway. They also offer businesses a great resource of young talent in the skills they need to build on commercial success and ensure this is sustainable.”
Publication date: Monday 5th October 2015