Your questions: Government apprenticeship changes

14/03/13

Apprentice

The government's announced changes to apprenticeships, with more control being given to employers.

In future they'll be able to design their own qualifications.

A report last year found that while some courses were good, others weren't giving apprentices the right skills to launch a career.

The government also says people should take a final test and get a grade at the end of their apprenticeship.

We put some of your questions to Skills Minister, Matthew Hancock.

Danielle, 22, from Lincoln

Danielle

Danielle applied for an apprenticeship advertised at £5 an hour, but had to leave after two weeks when she was told she'd actually only be paid £2.65.

"I'm now wary of applying for apprenticeships. They all seem to be aimed at people who live at home with their parents, and don't have to pay rent and buy their own food?"

Matthew Hancock's reply:

"The average pay is about £5.90 hour. Some are paid a lot more.

"We've introduced and increased the minimum wage for apprentices and we're looking at whether that should happen more."

Hannah, 20, from Shropshire

Hannah

"My company have asked me to cover maternity leave, so I'll be doing two 40-hour per week jobs.

"Is there a way that companies can be made to follow rules so they're not exploiting people, because I feel I'm being exploited?"

Matthew Hancock's response:

"Obviously exploitation is wrong.

"If you're asked to cover you're doing a full job and that gives you more experience, but doing 80 hours a week is an awful lot of hours."

So should Hannah be paid the same as the person she's covering?

"Not necessarily. You're getting the training and you're going to increase you lifetime earnings.

"The apprentice minimum wage is lower than the national minimum wage for that reason."

Callum, 19, from Dumfries

Callum

"When I'm at work, I'm not treated like an apprentice, but still get paid the apprentice wage of less than £4 pounds an hour.

"I do as much work, if not more, than most of the other mechanics.

"I feel like the apprenticeship is just a legal way for large companies to get cheap labour."

Matthew Hancock says:

"If you're not getting the training, I want to know about that and we'll do something about it.

"He should talk to the National Apprenticeship Service. If you've got a complaint about an apprenticeship you should go through that website."

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