Some employers are exploiting the government’s apprenticeship reforms to rebrand low-skill, low-paid jobs, a report has claimed.
The current definition of an apprenticeship is too loose, and is leaving candidates with fewer skills than their European counterparts, according to think tank Reform.
Companies are taking on apprentices in low-skilled jobs such as working in a coffee shop, manning hotel desks and helping with admin.
“Such training courses do not meet the historical or international definition of an apprenticeship because they typically offer minimal training, represent low-wage jobs and do not constitute skilled occupations,” said Reform.
The report investigating apprenticeships one year into the introduction of the apprenticeship levy also said that the label could be used to pay workers less than minimum wage.
“For example, news reports of ‘Business Administrator’ apprentices being asked to do little more than filing, photocopying and answer the phones while being paid below the normal minimum wage because they are classed as an ‘apprentice’ are all too common,” said the report.
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Apprenticeships are paid at around half minimum wage for the first year of training.
Reform recommended that the governments’ target of 3m apprenticeships starts by 2020 should be abandoned to focus on quality, and that a clearer standard of what constitutes an apprenticeship should be introduced.
Last month a poll by the Institute of Directors suggested that the apprenticeship levy needs urgent reform, with fewer than one in five employers saying they will use it to take on more apprentices than they otherwise would have done.
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