Businesses have welcomed a move by the government to increase the minimum weekly earnings of apprentices.
The increase, set to be announced by skills secretary John Denham at the Trades Union Congress (TUC) conference in Birmingham today, will see apprentices’ earnings increased from £80 to £95 per week.

The new rate, due to come into effect in August 2009, has been decided after a joint review by the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) and Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) found some 26,000 apprentices earn less than the average of £170 a week.

Denham is expected to tell the TUC conference the government has trebled the number of people taking up apprenticeships since 1997.

“Over 60% of people now complete their apprenticeships compared to just over 20% a few years ago, and we will go on to make sure they are a mainstream option for all young people and for adults in England.”

Colin Wildman, education and skills chairman at the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said he was ‘pleased the government has acceded to our calls for fairer pay’.

“We believe in apprenticeships and their value to the economy,” he added.

“A recent survey of our members showed over 80% support an increase in the minimum earnings of apprentices. Raising the minimum wage will create better parity between apprentices and full time staff and help increase training completion rates,” he said.

© Crimson Business Ltd. 2008