Paying apprentices a fair wage crucial to attracting great talent

The new Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham recently spoke out about the importance of paying apprentices a fair wage.

Speaking to the North West Business Insider magazine, Mr Burnham suggested that the apprentice minimum wage should be increased to equal the national minimum wage.

He said: “No young apprentice in Greater Manchester should be paid less than the national minimum wage. Paying them £3.50 is simply not enough.

“Public sector bodies in Greater Manchester are already leading by example and working towards paying apprentices the proper national minimum wage. It’s time for every employer in Greater Manchester to follow suit.”

For many businesses here in Oxfordshire, Mr Burnham’s comments will already resonate strongly.

In early-May, colleagues from Oxfordshire Apprenticeships reviewed 40 apprenticeship vacancies – all Oxfordshire-based and chosen at random. It revealed an average wage of £4.81 an hour, which is significantly higher than the national minimum wage of £3.50 per hour.

Many ‘living wage’ employers already have effective apprentice salary structures, including the University of Oxford, who pay their apprentices a starting wage of £8.25 per hour.

One of our key priorities at OxLEP is ‘people’. We believe that by paying apprentices above the national minimum wage, Oxfordshire businesses are better-placed to attract talented, young people and in-turn, gain an edge on competitors.

By rewarding apprentices with good levels of pay, loyalty between a business and employee is built and acknowledges the long-term training investment being made.

Competitive employment packages demonstrates a business’ commitment to apprenticeships, seeing apprentices as an essential part of their team and certainly not a cheap way to boost their productivity – but a positive way of developing a highly-trained workforce of the future.

For around 400 Oxfordshire organisations – eligible to pay the apprenticeship levy – there has never been a better time to create an apprenticeship programme. When coupled with good, fair pay, positive outcomes can only be expected for both business and apprentice alike.

To find out more on the benefits of apprenticeships, go to: www.oxfordshireapprenticeships.co.uk