TWO chairs of a Labour group which represents young people in Hampshire have taken to the streets of Basingstoke to campaign for better pay for apprentices.
Roxana Andrusca and Ryan Carter from the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Young (IOW) Labour group asked Basingstoke residents to sign their petition on April 1 at the Top of The Town.
The petition, which was signed by over 100 people, calls for the government to force UK companies of a certain size to pay their apprentices the national minimum wage, as well as a section on the UCAS website to advertise apprentices in both the UK and EU.
Currently apprentices in the UK are paid £2.68 per hour but the petition, which coincides with the 15th anniversary of the minimum wage, calls for them to be paid the national benchmark which varies, depending on age.
Under 18’s are currently paid £3.72, 18 to 20-year-olds are paid £5.03 and people aged 21 and above are paid £6.31 as part of the minimum wage.
In addition, the petition calls for all contractors and services that are outsourced by the government to offer apprenticeships, for all educational establishments to have representatives on local business forums and for the government to perform legal checks on apprenticeship practices to check the standards of apprenticeships provided and boost the numbers being offered.
Roxana Andrusca told The Gazette: “I have had various friends who have had apprenticeships and enjoyed the experience but they weren’t being paid enough. At university, students have access to grants but with apprenticeships, you solely rely on a wage.”
Ryan Carter added: “Young people are not getting the funds they need. Lots of older people we have spoken to are worried their skills are going to waste because young people are being taught them. We should have more apprenticeships and the training should be more meaningful.”
The borough’s Labour parliamentary candidate for the 2015 General Election, Councillor Paul Harvey is supporting the campaign.
He said: “It is great – we have had a lot of support. We have got to have good quality apprenticeships and it is smaller businesses which are carrying the weight of apprenticeships.
“We are so lucky to have to have an amazing college like BCoT that do some really good courses that lead to apprenticeships.”
The Hampshire and IOW Labour group are visiting towns and cities across the south to get support for the petition and are planning to send it to councils in Hampshire when they complete the tour.