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Apprentices’ minimum pay goes up 10pc

Apprentices’ minimum pay is to rise by £15 a week to £95, the Government has declared, sparking a Confederation of British Industry (CBI) warning that jobs could be axed to fund the increase.

The move will boost the pay packets of around 26,000 apprentices in England by roughly 10 per cent. The average weekly apprentice wage is £170.

Skills secretary John Denham made the announcement at the TUC Congress in Brighton earlier this week, claiming the Government had ‘rescued’ apprenticeships. The TUC had been lobbying for the minimum weekly wage to be raised to £100, however.

The new pay threshold kicks in from August 2009. Outlining the decision, Mr Denham said: “We have rescued apprenticeships. We have trebled the number of people taking them up since 1997. Over 60 per cent of people now complete their apprenticeships compared to just over 20 per cent a few years ago.

“We will go on to make sure that they are a mainstream option for all young people and for adults in England. Within the next decade one in five young people will be able to take up an apprenticeship,” he continued.

The CBI insisted it was committed to providing ‘high quality, well paid’ apprenticeships. But Susan Anderson, CBI director of education and skills policy, was quick to raise the spectre of job losses that could be caused by wage inflation.

She said: “There is a risk that this significant rise in minimum pay in England may lead to some employers reducing the number of apprentice opportunities on offer to young people.”

“The Government still needs to deliver on its promises to cut red tape, reform qualifications to reflect employers’ real skills needs and provide support for small firms. Without these changes our shared ambition of increasing the number of apprentice places will not be realised.”