The newly elected figurehead says £3.50 ‘is simply not enough’ for young Greater Manchester workers
Mayor Andy Burnham has demanded better wages for apprentices across Greater Manchester.
Speaking at a conference at the Etihad Stadium he berated the current national minimum wage of £3.50 for apprentices saying it ‘is simply not enough’.
Instead, he called on businesses to up the amount and fall in line with the national standards for 16-18 year olds.
This would be an increase of 55p an hour to £4.05, which some businesses have still dismissed as too little.
He also promised 10,000 new apprenticeship starts within Greater Manchester’s public sector over the next three years.
During the speech he said: “We all have a role to play and that is why today I am announcing a New Deal for Apprentices in Greater Manchester.
“Our New Deal will mean apprentices are guaranteed a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work and equipped with the skills to succeed.
“No young apprentice in Greater Manchester should be paid less than the national minimum wage for other young people in work.
“£3.50 an hour is simply not enough. Public sector bodies in Greater Manchester are already leading by example and working towards paying young apprentices the proper national minimum wage. It’s time for every employer in Greater Manchester to follow suit.”
The Pathways to Productivity project aims to increase the number of 16-24 year olds choosing apprenticeships as their next learning step, as well as supporting the roll-out of new employer-designed Apprenticeship Standards, which will replace all existing frameworks by 2020.
The mayor continued: “Apprenticeships are more than just a way to make a living, it’s about getting the skills to release your full potential and kick start your career.
“Everyone in this room knows the value of high-quality, purposeful apprenticeships. Apprenticeships that equip the next generation to take up the high skilled jobs being created here.
“Those are the only kind of apprenticeships we should offer young people in Greater Manchester.”
He then went on to promise that the public sector would lead by example.
“Over the next three years Greater Manchester’s public sector will deliver 10,000 new apprenticeship starts. Our offer to them should be: we will pay you a fair wage and give you the real skills to be all you can be.
“It is how we bridge the skills gap, drive productivity and make a success of Brexit. It’s good for our young people, good for business and good for Greater Manchester.”
Coupled with the new deal for apprentices, the Mayor will oversee the development of an enhanced UCAS-style application system.
This system will guarantee will only offer quality Apprenticeship and Traineeship opportunities, alongside other high quality training and skills development.
The new deal will also form an important part of the Mayor’s Good Employers’ Charter.
The news has been welcome by local employers.
UKFast CEO Lawrence Jones said: “Andy’s right; it’s a no-brainer to offer your apprentices a fair deal. When you look at the difference between a £12,000 salary, which is what we pay at UKFast as a minimum, and £3.50 an hour (£6,800 annually), the difference it makes to whether good candidates chose to do an apprenticeship over university is massive.
“We can’t promote apprenticeships as a viable alternative to university if we don’t provide the wages that they deserve. When you add together the potential debt of university with potential earnings of an apprenticeship, you could be £70,000 better off after three years of an apprenticeship compared to University.”
Mark Cartwright, group managing director, Cartwright added: “Cartwright is a strong advocate of apprenticeships and following the success of its award winning programme over the past five years is now successfully rolling the scheme out into other areas of the business to create increased opportunities.
“Recognising the important role apprentices play within the business, Cartwright has always paid above the minimum wage and hopes that Andy Burnham’s interest in the value of apprenticeships within our region will encourage greater support from government to help boost both recruitment and retention.”