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Minimum wage mooted for apprentices

The government has asked the Low Pay Commission to look at the case for introducing a national minimum wage for apprentices.

It would the first time that a minimum rate of pay has been set for many of those in apprenticeships.

Apprentices are currently exempt from the minimum wage if they are aged under 19 or if they are aged over 19 but in the first year of their apprenticeships.

There is, however, a minimum rate of pay for Learning and Skills Council apprenticeship contracts, currently £80 per week and rising to £95 as from August 2009.

Pat McFadden, the Business Minister, said: “The Low Pay Commission has been instrumental in ensuring the great success of the minimum wage. They carefully examine the latest economic data before making recommendations that balance the needs of low paid workers and businesses.

“This is the same sensible approach they will take with regards to apprentices. The new arrangements must give apprentices a fair deal and protect them from exploitation, but at the same not impose undue burdens that would deter businesses from taking them on.”

Apprentices Minister, Iain Wright added: “An apprenticeship is an excellent opportunity for young people to train in the workplace. I am committed to ensuring that an apprenticeship is an option for all young people and we are establishing an entitlement to deliver this.

“I know the Low Pay Commission is sensitive to this and understands the need to balance the proper protection of young people from exploitation against the need to ensure a supply of high quality Apprenticeship opportunities.”

The Commission has been asked to report by the end of February 2010.