The national minimum wage (NMW) for apprentices should be increased in order to improve the image of internships amongst young people, employers have said.
In the latest Labour Market Outlook survey from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), the majority of employers suggested that the apprentice NMW should be almost doubled to £5.00 an hour.
Under the current regulations, apprentices under 19 or 19 and over in the first year of their apprenticeship, are entitled to a minimum hourly rate of £2.60. This is due to rise to £2.65 from 1 October 2012.
However, the CIPD claims that increasing the apprentice NMW would make apprenticeships a more attractive option for school leavers.
‘It may be that employers are concerned that the apprenticeship rate doesn’t look as good in comparison with the youth development rate [for workers aged 18 to 20] or the 16 to 17-year-old rate,’ said the CIPD’s reward adviser, Charles Cotton.
‘People coming out of school could see the rate that is attached to apprenticeships as indicative that the scheme is of low value and of low importance.’
He continued; ‘I think many organisations in our sample are trying to improve the image and status of apprenticeships. They’re promoting them as a gateway for people to improve skills and knowledge, improve pay and potentially lead them into management roles.’
A significant number of employers also felt the NMW for individuals aged 16 and 17 should be increased by £1.22 to £4.90 an hour, while the rate for those aged 18 – 20 should be raised to £5.20.