Apprenticeships present an enticing opportunity, providing a salary while pursuing education, and with the added benefit of the employer covering the cost of training. This alleviates the need to seek a large loan to pay for it, resulting in a debt of thousands of pounds.
However, it is crucial to note that, despite the financial benefits, the apprenticeship stipulates that you support yourself throughout the duration. This can range from 12 months up to five years, with payment being variable from one scheme to the next. From April, the national minimum wage for apprentices will be £3.70 an hour for those under the age of 19 or above 19 and in their first year of training. While this may be adequate for those living at home, it may not be sufficient to cover travel costs, which can erode earnings.
It is suggested that the individual checks their contract to see if they can receive help with financing travel expenditures and other relevant costs, including equipment and clothing. The contract may also clarify information on statutory holiday pay and sick leave or additional benefits offered by the employer, such as a pension plan, a car, or entertainment opportunities.
Statistics from a government investigation into apprenticeship pay revealed that in 2016, the national average hourly wage for a level 2 or 3 apprenticeship, equivalent to GCSEs and A-levels, was £7. Least paid apprenticeships were in hairdressing and childcare, while the highest earners were in management, customer service, health, social care, sport, and retail. However, some apprenticeships command considerably more income, such as Transport for London apprenticeships, which start at £17,802 per annum.
Even though apprentices do not qualify for student discounts, the National Union of Students offers an apprentice extra card, while reduced travel costs may be available. For those based in London, the Apprentice Oyster photocard offers 30% off particular journeys.
Degree-level apprenticeships can be financially rewarding, with some starting pay matching the average wage. On the other hand, without government loans, apprentices may be restricted to living at home, limiting the range of opportunities available to them.