Business chiefs query Cable’s apprentice plan

Joseph Millis
BUSINESS secretary Vince Cable today unveiled plans to boost pay for thousands of apprentices that would create a single national minimum wage for 16- to 17-year-olds in work.

But business leaders quickly poured cold water on the plan, saying that they had already paid their fair share in training.

Vince Cable, speaking at the party conference in Glasgow, said the plan would mean around 31,000 appren­tices in the first year of their prog­ram­me would see a rise of more than £1 an hour, from £2.73 to £3.79.

But Katja Hall, deputy director general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said in response: “Apprenticeships are a vital route for young people to get a step on the career ladder…[Yet] companies already pay their share into training, so raising the cost of taking these young people on would be unwise and put off many smaller firms from getting involved.”

And John Allan, National Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, said: “We support increases to the apprentice minimum wage rate and a narrowing of the gap with the youth rate. But this should happen gradually, not in one fell swoop.”

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