Half of apprentices are in debt and one in five ends up out of work

Half of apprentices are in debt and one in five ends up out of work


Almost half of apprentices are in debt (47 per cent) and one in five of those who finished their apprenticeship in the past two years is now out of work, which shows that high numbers of apprenticeships are failing, according to a new Young Women’s Trust report, ‘The real cost of an apprenticeship: are young women paying the price?’.

The charity, which supports young women on low or no pay, surveyed 508 current or recent apprentices through ComRes and found that three in five struggle to make their cash last to the end of the month, leaving many unable to afford essentials, like transport to work, or having to borrow money. 

For lots of apprentices, outgoings are more than income, which can legally be as little as £3.70 an hour. 60% say they are paid less than non-apprentice colleagues, despite doing the same tasks. 

When asked how they make ends meet, one in three young women apprentices and one in five young men have been forced to borrow money from family or friends. One in five have skipped meals, one in six have gone into their overdraft and one in 10 have gone into rent arrears. 

Half of apprentices say they have considered dropping out of their apprenticeship early because they struggled financially. 

While many have done an apprenticeship to improve their employment prospects, the report finds that one in five of those who finished in the last two years says they are now unemployed and many others are working in a sector not connected to their apprenticeship. Department for Education data shows that women who have completed apprenticeships are finding that their earnings progression is lagging significantly behind men. The charity claims that many apprenticeships are therefore failing young women. 

Young Women’s Trust is calling for a significant increase in the apprentice minimum wage – or to scrap it altogether and put apprentices on the same rates as everyone else. One in three young apprentices say that increased pay would make the biggest difference to them financially, followed by free or discounted travel (a Conservative manifesto commitment that has not yet been met), the ability to take out a loan or bursary, food vouchers and free or cheaper childcare. The charity has found that young people and employers agree that the apprentice minimum wage should be increased. 

Young Women’s Trust chief executive Dr Carole Easton OBE said:  “Young people – and especially young women – are being shut out of apprenticeships by low pay. Their wage barely covers the bus to work, let alone bills and rent – despite many doing the same work as their better-paid colleagues. 

“If the Government is serious about supporting more people into apprenticeships, it must significantly raise the apprentice minimum wage, or put apprentices onto the same rates as everyone else. 

“Making apprenticeships attractive and accessible to a wider range of people will bring huge benefits to employers and the economy. It’s time the Government made apprenticeships work for young people.”

Thursday, 22 November 2018

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