Apprentices – Liberal Democrat Conference


The Business Secretary, Vince Cable will, today, outline his plan for apprentices to receive higher pay.

The press release is saying that the Liberal Democrats want the apprenticeship rate to equal the rate for 16 to 18 year olds, they state that the Conservatives back the plan and that it will mean apprentices will earn £3.79 by next October – an increase from the £2.73 that they are currently entitled to as a minimum wage.

I’m sure that his principle is fine, but of course, by next October the rate will have increased again. In my experience very few firms actually pay the apprentice rate, so the impact may not be too widely felt. However, if you are paying the low rate and are committed to an apprentice you could be looking at a 39% pay increase for your apprentices.

There has not yet been any announcement about the £1500 bursary that employers get from the government when taking on apprentices, so we do not know if there is any intention to increase this figure. You may know from my previous blog that the Conservatives also featured apprentices in their conference and they were talking about raising money by reduce the cap on benefits in order to provide for more apprentices. Click here to go back to that blog.

It would appear that Mr Cable is going to write to the Low Pay Commission with a recommendation on reviewing the apprentice rate in the National Minimum Wage and combining it with the 16-18 rate. Full details on the National Minimum wage can be found by clicking here.

It would appear that the coalition is less than harmonious again as the Liberal Democrats are complaining about the Tory plans,that were announced at their conference, to freeze working age benefits and potentially  reduce them and to raise the 40% tax threshold so that more people benefit from a tax reduction.