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What Is The Apprenticeship Wage?

What Is The Apprenticeship Wage

If you’re an employer looking to take on an apprentice, or you’re considering becoming an apprentice yourself, one of the first things you’ll need to know is how much apprentices get paid.

The Apprentice Minimum Wage depends on the apprentice’s age and what year they are in their apprenticeship course. For 2023/4

– Apprentices aged 16-18 years old: £5.28 per hour 

– Apprentices aged 19 or over who are in their first year: £5.28 per hour

– Apprentices aged 19 or over who are past their first year: National Minimum Wage for their age band

These are the minimum legal amounts that apprentices can be paid but many employers choose to pay more than this. The average weekly wage for a first-year apprentice is around £200. Apprentice pay will usually increase each year of the apprenticeship as the apprentice’s skills and experience develop.

Apprentice wages are often significantly lower than the minimum wage, but how much can you expect to earn as an apprentice and how much will championing an apprentice scheme cost your business?

This guide will explain everything you need to know about apprenticeship pay rates.

What is an Apprenticeship?

First, let’s define what an apprenticeship is. An apprenticeship is a job with training, usually aimed at young people. It combines working for an employer with studying for a formal qualification and can take between one and five years to complete, depending on the level of apprenticeship and the industry.

Apprenticeships are available across hundreds of job roles, from construction to digital marketing to accounting. As an apprentice, you’ll gain recognised qualifications and essential skills while you earn.

Apprenticeships provide a great foundation for many rewarding careers.

Who Can Become an Apprentice?

Apprenticeships are available for anyone over the age of 16 living in the UK. There is no upper age limit for apprenticeships, so they can provide a way into a new career at any stage of working life however, apprenticeships are predominantly undertaken by 16-24 year olds. You don’t need any prior qualifications to become an apprentice, you just need a passion to learn and the commitment to work hard.

The Benefits of Hiring an Apprentice

As an employer, hiring an apprentice can bring many benefits to your business as Apprenticeships let you nurture talent and build a loyal, skilled workforce.

Taking on an apprentice allows you to mould and train an employee to fit your company’s culture and needs. Apprentices can inject enthusiasm, fresh thinking, and technical skills into your workplace.

Employing an apprentice is cost-effective too, as apprenticeship wages are lower than usual salaries. You’ll also receive government funding to help cover the cost of apprentice training as well.

How Are Apprenticeship Wages Calculated?

Unlike regular wages, apprenticeship pay rates are not subject to the National Minimum Wage. Instead, they are calculated using Apprentice Minimum Wage rates which are reviewed and set annually by the UK Government.

The Apprentice Minimum Wage depends on the apprentice’s age and what year they are in their apprenticeship course. For 2023/4

– Apprentices aged 16-18 years old: £5.28 per hour

– Apprentices aged 19 or over who are in their first year: £5.28 per hour

– Apprentices aged 19 or over who are past their first year: National Minimum Wage for their age band

These are the minimum legal amounts that apprentices can be paid but many employers choose to pay more than this. The average weekly wage for a first-year apprentice is around £200. Apprentice pay will usually increase each year of the apprenticeship as the apprentice’s skills and experience develop.

Comparing Apprentice Wages to the National Minimum Wage

To put apprentice pay into perspective, it helps to compare it to current National Minimum Wage rates:

– Age 23 and over (National Living Wage): £10.42 per hour

– Age 21-22: £10.18 per hour

– Age 18-20: £7.49 per hour

– Age under 18: £5.28 per hour

So you can see that apprentice wages are significantly lower than the minimum wage that other workers are entitled to. However, apprentices gain long-term benefits from the training, qualifications and progression opportunities that apprenticeships provide.

Many employers also reward apprentices with performance-based bonuses and wage increases to reflect progress. This helps bridge the gap between apprentice and non-apprentice pay.

Factors That Affect Apprenticeship Salaries

While the Apprentice Minimum Wage sets out legal minimums, several factors can influence how much an individual apprentice earns:

– Age of apprentice

– Year/level of apprenticeship

– Sector and job role

– Region and location within the UK

– Size of employer (SMEs may pay less)

– Funding available from industry bodies

For example, apprenticeships in sectors like construction, engineering, digital and finance tend to pay higher wages. London and the South East may pay more than other regions too due to regional cost of living variations, and bigger employers tend to pay above the legal minimum but are not required to do so.

Many employers also reward performance with bonuses. Progression opportunities to higher roles can also increase pay after completing an apprenticeship.

How Apprentice Pay Compares to Other Options for Young People

Apprenticeship wages are generally lower than those you could expect to receive following other routes like university or employment straight after school. However, unlike higher education, apprentices earn while they learn and have their training costs covered and provide mentorship and real-world skills that are hard to gain from school or university alone.

Here’s a comparison of apprentice wages versus student loans and youth unemployment:

– Apprentices earn at least £5.28 per hour, adding up to around £200 per week.

– The average student loan debt after a 3-year degree is £50,000. Many graduates are unemployed for periods after university too.

– Young people who are unemployed earn £0 per week. Youth unemployment (aged 16-24) is around 12%.

Therefore, apprenticeships provide a structured pathway into skilled work for young people, while earning a wage at the same time. Apprentices gain qualifications, experience and contacts to kickstart their careers.

Major Industries Offering Apprenticeships

Now let’s look at some of the top industries and employers offering apprenticeships:


Popular construction apprenticeships include bricklayer, electrician, plumber, carpenter, plasterer, painter and decorator. Typical starting salaries are £150-£250 per week, rising to over £500 per week when fully qualified. Major construction firms like Taylor Wimpey, Persimmon and Balfour Beatty offer apprentice programs.


Engineering apprentices can choose disciplines like civil, mechanical, electrical, chemical, nuclear and aerospace engineering. Defence companies like BAE Systems and Rolls Royce offer engineering apprenticeships, starting at £150-£200 per week. Qualified engineers can eventually earn £40,000+ per year.

Digital Tech

Tech apprenticeships include roles such as software developer, cyber security technician, network engineer and data analyst. Top employers include BT, IBM, Capgemini and BAE Systems. Apprentice salaries start around £200 per week, rising to £400+ per week when experienced.


Major accountancy firms like KPMG, Deloitte, PwC and EY recruit over 1,000 apprentices annually. Accounting apprentices earn £14,000-£18,000 in the first year, increasing to qualified accountant salaries of £45,000+.


The NHS is one of the biggest apprentice employers, offering roles such as nursing associate, healthcare assistant and dental nurse. With experience, healthcare salaries can rise substantially.

Apprenticeship Funding and Schemes Available

There are also some great schemes available for hiring and training apprentices:

– The National Apprenticeship Service can help you access training, choose a provider and write apprentice vacancy adverts.

– Small businesses (under 50 employees) don’t pay National Insurance contributions for apprentices under 25.

– The Apprenticeship Levy is a UK tax used to fund apprentice training – it can help cover your apprentice’s course fees.

– Some industry bodies like the Construction Industry Training Board provide additional apprentice funding.

So in summary, taking on an apprentice is very affordable for businesses, with plenty of financial support available too.

Apprenticeship Funding: Financial Support for Employers

Financial Support for Employers

As an employer, you may be concerned about the cost of hiring and training an apprentice however there is financial support available to make taking on an apprentice affordable.

Here are some of the main funding options:

Apprenticeship Levy

The Apprenticeship Levy is a tax on UK employers with an annual pay bill over £3 million. It is charged at 0.5% of the employer’s pay bill, minus an allowance of £15,000. Employers can use their Levy contributions to cover apprenticeship training costs. Non-Levy paying firms also receive generous co-investment support from the government.

Small Business Incentives

Businesses with fewer than 50 employees don’t pay secondary National Insurance contributions for apprentices under 25 years old. This exempts you from paying around 13.8% NI on apprentice wages. Smaller firms also receive 90% of apprentice training costs covered by the government.

Industry Bodies

Some industries provide their own apprentice grants and funding. For example, the Construction Industry Training Board provides a training grant of £2,000 for taking on construction apprentices. Financial incentives are also offered in other sectors like engineering, transport and logistics.

Local Authorities

Your local city, borough or county council may provide apprenticeship grants or subsidies. For example, Manchester City Council has offered a £4,000 incentive payment for employers taking on apprentices. Contact your local authority to find out what apprenticeship support is available.

Regional Funding

Some regions offer additional incentives or subsidies to boost apprenticeship take-up. Contact your Local Enterprise Partnership or Growth Hub to find out about local funding opportunities. UK Government Ministers can also award supplementary apprenticeship incentive payments in certain regions.

Tax Relief

You can deduct apprenticeship training costs from your tax bill through Corporation Tax relief. Additionally, employers subject to the Apprenticeship Levy can claim back the Annual Investment Allowance for apprentice tools and equipment.

As you can see, financial support is widely available to make hiring an apprentice affordable. The long-term business benefits mean apprenticeships represent an invaluable investment in your future workforce.

Choosing an Apprenticeship Framework

With over 150 types of apprenticeships to choose from, selecting the right apprenticeship framework for your business is important. Here are 5 steps to picking the perfect apprenticeship:

  1. Assess your skills needs – What skills gaps can apprentices fill? Which roles need fresh thinking?
  2. Attract applicants – Advertise on the Find An Apprenticeship website. Attend local career fairs. Engage with schools and colleges.
  3. Shortlist candidates – Interview and select apprentices based on merit. Assess enthusiasm as well as competency.
  4. Choose a training provider – Find a reputable provider able to deliver the training your apprentices require.
  5.  Pick an apprenticeship framework – Match the right level and job role to your needs. Consider 2-3-year programs for greater value.

By carefully aligning the right apprenticeship with your company’s needs, you will gain motivated new staff delivering excellent value from day one.

Top Tips for Hiring an Apprentice

If you’ve decided to take on an apprentice, here are 5 tips to ensure successful apprentice recruitment:

  1. Provide a thorough job description – Set clear expectations around the role, duties and qualification aims.
  2. Promote the role widely – Utilise social media and job sites. Attend career fairs to engage young applicants.
  3. Offer fair pay and conditions – At a minimum, meet the Apprentice Pay Rate but consider exceeding it based on the role.
  4. Assess candidates’ passion – Hold interviews and tasks to gauge enthusiasm as well as competence.
  5. Provide excellent mentoring – Assign a mentor to offer guidance throughout the program. Outline a career pathway post-apprenticeship.

Following best practices for apprentice recruitment and onboarding leads to positive outcomes for both employer and apprentice. You’ll develop motivated individuals and build a talent pipeline for the future.

Why Hire an Apprentice?

Apprenticeships represent a smart investment in your business.

Here are 8 key benefits of employing an apprentice:

  1. Develop talent and skills aligned to your needs
  2. Boost productivity by filling key roles
  3. Motivate your workforce with fresh thinking
  4. Strengthen succession planning for the future
  5. Build loyalty through training and mentoring
  6. Enhance your employer brand and reputation
  7. Gain government incentives and financial support
  8. Widen access and diversity within your organisation

In today’s competitive post-COVID environment, employers need to innovate around recruitment and training. Offering apprenticeships demonstrates your commitment to nurturing talent, while cost-effectively building your ideal workforce.

Final Thoughts

Apprentice wages provide a great opportunity for younger people to enter skilled careers and develop valuable real-world experience. The training, mentoring and qualifications gained set apprentices up for future progression and higher salaries down the line.

For employers, hiring an apprentice is a cost-effective way to invest in fresh talent and shape a motivated, talented workforce for the future. And that’s a win-win for all involved!

Hopefully, this guide has provided a helpful introduction to apprentice pay rates in the UK. You now understand how the Apprentice Minimum Wage is calculated, how apprentice salaries compare to other options, and which major industries offer top apprenticeship roles.


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