A third of newly graduated apprentices are unemployed or working in a sector unrelated to their apprenticeship, a report has revealed.

A survey of more than 500 current or recent apprentices found that one in five who completed their apprenticeship within the last two years were unemployed. Almost one in five were working in a sector not connected to their apprenticeship. 

In addition, 64% of female apprentices and 54% of male apprentices were worried about being unemployed after completing their apprenticeship. 

In other countries such as Germany, apprentices are paid less, but when taking up the offer of an apprenticeship place they are guaranteed a strong return on that investment with a large wage return and a career, and the businesses gains a highly skilled individual. This is not guaranteed in the UK. More than three quarters of survey respondents said their apprenticeship had given them new skills, and almost two-thirds said apprenticeships were a better way to gain professional skills than university.

But despite this, financial barriers proved a significant challenge. Half of respondents said they had considered dropping out of their apprenticeship early because of financial struggles, while 60% reported being paid less than non-apprenticeship colleagues despite doing the same tasks. 

A spokesperson for the Education and Skills Funding Agency, the government agency responsible for funding education and training, said that the majority of employers paid over the apprenticeship minimum wage, but added action was being taken on increased financial support.  The minimum wage for apprentices will rise to £3.90 per hour from April 2019 – an increase of 5.4 per cent. In reality, most employers pay over the apprentice minimum wage and our most recent survey estimates the average apprenticeship pay for Level 2 and Level 3 apprentices is over £6 an hour. 


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