Hidden costs for apprentices??

An experiment into the hidden costs of training and apprenticeships for the learners (and their parents)!

Several years ago, when apprenticeships were re-born under the pseudonym of Modern Apprenticeships and before they morphed into the apprenticeships we know today, learners were able to take a level 2 apprenticeship with an employer as part of a work trial.   The learners received a training allowance of £40 per week, albeit not a substantial amount, but were reimbursed for all their travel and out of pocket expenses.  Nowadays, as we all know, all apprentices have to be employed at £2.60 per hour until they are over 19 years old and in the second year of their apprenticeship, when they qualify for the minimum wage.  Travel and out of pocket expenses now have to be found from their own pockets.  We wanted to know if the apprentices are better off on the new system or on the old system.

One of our apprentices has kept all of his travel tickets for the whole of the time he was on his programme and, having just completed today, he has brought them all in to us to show us how much it has cost him out of his wages.   This apprentice started on £95 per week and finished on the minimum wage.  However in checking his records, we realised he had also completed 2 training programmes before he started on his apprenticeship and on these programmes he would not have received any income or expenses whatsoever.  Here are our findings:-

  • Pre-apprenticeship travel costs including attending an interview and 2 courses:- £211.30.   There was no income at all during this training so all out of pocket expenses were paid by the learner (or more likely than not, his parents!)
  • Level 2 apprenticeship took 40 weeks.  During this time the learner was employed within walking/cycling distance of his home and was paid £95 per week by his employer.   The learner attended day release at the ITEC, which cost him travel of £436.40 over the 40 weeks.  These expenses were not reimbursed by his employer.
  • This learner progressed on to a level 3 apprenticeship but his employer elected to do only work-based units rather than day release courses.  This meant there were fewer day release attendance days needed so although the apprenticeship took 19 months, the travel costs incurred were just £40 – a much better result for this learner if you are only taking out of pocket expenses into account!

These findings do show that the apprentices are better off on the ‘newer’ employed system than they were on the £40 per week plus expenses system.

However, it does beg a question – our staff members would be reimbursed for any travel and out of pocket expenses for attending courses, even when they are attending on a day release basis so why don’t employers of apprentices reimburse these costs?  Is it that these were always catered for already under the old-style apprenticeships and employers just haven’t caught up?  Maybe it just doesn’t occur to them?

What do you think?

4 comments on “Hidden costs for apprentices??

  1. I totally agree with you. As an organisation this is something that we are now pushing employers to do. It would be interesting to look at this next year and see how successful we’ve been in encouraging/enforcing employers to pay travel costs for day release.


  2. As part of my contract for my level 3 apprenticeship with my employer, (luckily) they agreed to still pay my expenses and travel for my day release. I think this was due to the amount of travelling I have to do. I am also on the NMW as I am past my first year of employment. Every Thursday I pay £6.20 for a train ticket, £3.40 for a bus ticket and then another £1.20 for a bus ticket from my local train station home. Thats a total of £10.80pw. I started my courses for my level three in August so up until present day, going back 47 weeks (including todays travel and excluding a few weeks that i haven’t had to attend due to holidays etc) roughly my employer has reimbursed me an amount of £470 for my level 3 apprenticeship alone.
    I can see that the old way of how apprenticeship wages worked must have been difficult with only having £40pw. And if it is anything like my employer, I have to pay out of my pocket first and then hand in my receipts/tickets to claim the money, so if I was on £40pw and having to pay for my travel and wait for it back until the following week I think I would find it hard.


  3. I do know im not the only colleague that gets ‘petty cash’ for travel and other expenses, and as far as i know, if there is training for staff the academy pays for it but i dont know about their travel. i appreciate that the academy pays for my travel, however i am glad that it is only a one day release as i dont think they would pay for any more days and until im on more than NMW i wouldnt be prepared spending a lot of money on travel.


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