Scottish Government
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Raise minimum wage for apprentices

Cabinet Secretary for Fair Work calls for equal pay for trainees.

Modern Apprentices (MAs) should not be paid less than their colleagues, the Cabinet Secretary for Fair Work, Skills and Training has said.

Roseanna Cunningham was speaking in a parliamentary debate on the Scottish Government’s new youth employment strategy, published earlier in the week, and has called on the UK Government to use powers over the minimum wage reserved to Westminster to end low pay for Scotland’s apprentices.

The current minimum payment rate for 16 and 17 year old Modern Apprentices is £2.73 an hour while with the National Minimum Wage for under 18 year olds is £3.79.

Ms Cunningham said yesterday:

“Modern Apprenticeships are key element of the Scottish Government’s work to support young people into jobs and this week’s youth employment strategy underlined their importance with a range of measures to enhance the programme.

“By 2020 we will have 30,000 new opportunities every year and the individuals concerned will be taking concerted steps towards a productive career in their path of choice. But we must also consider the welfare of these young women and men. The Scottish programme ensures employed status, and yet the discriminatory regulations of the UK government means that many could receive less than £3 an hour. That is simply wrong.

“This Scottish Government’s wants to see more jobs and better jobs. No one, no matter their age, should be working for less than £3 an hour.

“That’s why I am today calling upon Westminster to bring payment for apprentices into line with the other bands in the National Minimum Wage. We would, of course, like to go further with the living wage but as a bare minimum, we must end shockingly low minimum wage apprentices currently face.

“We want to attract young people into the apprentice programme and less than £3 per hour is a clear disincentive. This is not simply about fairness. It is economic common sense.”

Ms Cunningham also announced the membership of Developing the Young Workforce National Advisory Group which she will chair alongside Councillor Douglas Chapman of CoSLA. Membership will include Sir Ian Wood who chaired the Commission for Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce.

Ms Cunningham added:

“The National Advisory Group will support our implementation of the recommendations of the Commission for Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce as part of the Scottish Government’s new youth employment strategy.

“I am delighted Sir Ian Wood has agreed to join the group, providing continuity between the Commission’s work and how it will be implemented. The Group’s membership covers a wide range of sectors and I look forward to chairing it with Councillor Chapman as we take forward measures to support more young people towards a job over the next seven years.”

Notes To Editors

Membership of the group is as follows:

  • Sir Ian Wood
  • Brian Johnstone (Regional College Chair, Dumfries & Galloway)
  • John Fyffe (President, Association of Directors of Education in Scotland)
  • Iain Ellis (Chair, National Parents' Forum Scotland)
  • Larry Flanagan (EIS General Secretary)
  • Grahame Smith (STUC General Secretary, Wood Commissioner)
  • Hamira Khan (Chief Executive, Scottish Youth Parliament)
  • Polly Purvis (Executive Director ScotlandIS: trade body for ICT industry in Scotland)
  • Morna Simpson (founder of Girl Geek Scotland, Managing Director of FlockEdu)
  • Annag Maclean (Headteacher, Castlebay High)
  • Elma Murray (SOLACE representative)


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