Comment: So where are all the keen apprentices?

Last month, Vince Cable announced an increase in apprentice pay of three pence to £2.68 an hour and promised “tough new measures” to punish errant employers. In making the announcement the business secretary overruled the government’s own minimum wage adviser, the Low Pay Commission, which sets the wage every year and recommended that the apprentice rate be frozen at £2.65 an hour.Comment: So where are all the keen apprentices?

However, Cable said he was overruling this and increasing the payment because too many employers were ignoring it. “Apprenticeships are at the heart of our goal to support a stronger economy, and so it is important to continue to make them attractive to young people,” Cable was quoted as saying.

However, I  believe the business secretary is being disingenuous when he accuses companies of not being prepared to pay apprentices the minimum wage rate and is just trying to deflect attention from the real problem. In my experience – and I am a long-term campaigner for apprenticeship training – trade-based programmes pay well above minimum rates and the real problem is the lack of motivation within the young workforce.

My own property maintenance and refurbishment company runs trade-based apprenticeship schemes and we pay ­– at the very least – three times the minimum rate, but our problem is finding suitably motivated young people. We we believe in giving youngsters a chance and we have returned to a system of old fashioned apprenticeships to train our young workers.

Last year, we organised a series of apprentice “boot camps” to select apprenticeship candidates where youngsters were put through a series of fitness, literacy and numeracy tests.

This article was taken from the Construction Manager website and can be read in full by clicking the following link.