Just one in five MPs think the apprentice minimum wage is enough to live on, a Young Women’s Trust survey shows on the first day of National Apprenticeship Week. Fewer than half (45 per cent) said they would encourage someone to undertake a job paid £3.50 an hour – the apprentice minimum wage.

This is despite MPs firmly believing that more young people should take on apprenticeships, with 83 per cent saying they are concerned that some young people are encouraged to go to university when an apprenticeship may be more appropriate.

Young Women’s Trust research shows that apprentices are some of the hardest hit financially, with two in five spending more on the role than they earn. The charity polled apprentices and found that half struggle to cover basic living costs and transport to work. Others have told the charity that they were put off doing an apprenticeship altogether because it wasn’t financially viable.

The legal apprentice minimum wage of £3.50 an hour falls far short of the Government’s £7.50 National Living Wage, leaving apprentices £7,280 a year worse off than workers aged 25 and over. Young Women’s Trust has found that, in some cases, apprentices on the minimum wage are being exploited by being given the same work and responsibilities as non-trainee workers.

A separate survey of more than 4,000 young people by the charity found that raising the apprentice minimum wage was one of the most popular ideas the Government could implement. The policy was supported by 83 per cent of respondents and was more popular than abolishing university tuition fees, which 59 per cent agreed with.

Young Women’s Trust chief executive Dr Carole Easton OBE said:

“Young people – and especially young women – are being shut out of apprenticeships by low pay. Their wage barely covers the bus to work, let alone bills and rent. Even MPs agree that the £3.50 apprentice minimum wage is not enough to live on.

“If it is serious about supporting more people into apprenticeships, the Government must significantly raise the apprentice minimum wage.

“Creating a system that makes apprenticeships attractive and accessible to a wider range of people will bring huge benefits to employers and the economy as a whole. It’s time the Government made apprenticeships work for young people.”