Reduction in trainee pay urged to increase places


APPRENTICE wages should be reduced or restructured to make training schemes more attractive to employers, according to an EU report.

This evaluation of the standards based apprentice programme, says the Government's effort to increase places in industry by 1,000 a year has failed. Economic factors, previous intake and a more regulated apprenticeship system made the targets "unrealisable".

The direct and indirect costs of such training are high, it says, with an average outlay of more than £10,000 per trainee. The European Social Fund (ESF) provides 51 per cent of funding, the State 38 per cent, and the remaining 11 per cent comes from an employer levy.

"For employers, the tension bet providing training and maintaining productivity is heightened in a context where the potentially superior training package provided under the new system is not offset by some reduction in wage costs", the report states.

The decline in apprentices is attributed to the growing number of small firms, an increase in subcontracting, the recession and the impact of new technology. Many small firms do not have the resources or the continuity of work to train apprentices.

Apprentice wages range from about 33 per cent of the full craft wage in first year to 90 per cent in fourth year.

Employers, the ESF or the State should not pay any more of the costs of apprenticeship training through increased subsidy or tax incentives. "There is an argument that apprentices should subsidise their own training to a greater extent than has currently been the case.

The report says greater efforts are needed to encourage women apprentices, pointing to Shannon Aerospace's success in recruiting female trainees.

The transition from "timeserved" apprenticeship to the standards-based model had "not been an easy or smooth progression" but much had been achieved.