Are apprentices being treated less favourably than university students?

13 January 2023 | David Young

Hayley Pells, policy manager at the Institute of the Motor Industry, questions the logic behind the government's latest announcement on cost of living support for students

Are apprentices being treated less favourably than university students?

"It's great to see Government recognising the financial hardships being faced by students. But we fear there is a serious misplaced understanding of the financial position of apprentices. Ignoring this group sends another message that they are the poor relations to full-time students and could deter young people from taking this route in the future. With the skills shortage already critical, this is the last thing any sector needs.

"Of course, apprentices are earning while learning. But the reality is that most apprentices are on either the minimum or living wage – and some may even face redundancy or reduced working hours when economic conditions put pressure on employers.

"Now more than ever we need to make workplace learning attractive and there is much the government could do to support employers of apprentices, especially the small and medium sized enterprises which make up such a large proportion of the automotive retail sector.

"For example, a skills tax credit could be introduced for SMEs, as proposed by the Learning and Work Institute. SMEs could also benefit from a well-publicised service and central portal of information to help them understand how to take on an apprentice.

"The Super Deduction which is planned to end 31st March 2023 could also be continued to prompt much needed investment in capital equipment required to support the transition to the technologies of a greener transport future."