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?