Considerations for employers when deciding on Apprentice Wages

When considering employing an Apprentice, money can be one of the critical factors in your discussions. Apprentices enable smaller companies to invest in new hires whilst giving a young person the ability to train and gain work experience, learn new skills, and gain qualifications.

There many considerations when employing an apprentice, with one of the main questions being what wage you should offer an apprentice? The answer depends on many variables, from your location, sector, the size of your business, access to apprenticeship funding, and the job level and expectations of the role in question.


The minimum wage for an apprentice is currently £4.30 an hour. For apprentices aged 19 and over, the minimum apprentice wage rises after one year of training to the national minimum wage for their age group to reflect a realistic cost of living for the age group and recognise the apprentice's increasing capabilities responsibilities with a year's work experience.

Paying the minimum saves companies money on new hires and enable smaller organisations to invest in apprenticeships. However, if you are in a position to offer a little more, should you?

You might want to consider paying a little more if you can afford to do so.  In the last year, we have found that many young people applying for Apprenticeships are a little older than 16.  This could be due to increasing university fees, or more recently because, University has not lived up to learners' expectations due to lockdown during the recent pandemic and the costs involved in studying for a degree.

In addition, the cost of living has gone up.  Many of us have noticed the increase in the weekly shopping bill and the price of a pint or a glass of wine as businesses try to regain lost revenue.  Wages are certainly a tricky question for most employers. Add the cost of travel, and it may be hard for an aspiring apprentice to afford to travel to your business location.


This does depend on the sector and the location of your business.  If you are looking for a local apprentice, recommend a wage upwards of £5.00 - £6.00 per hour for 16-18-year-olds. For drivers or 19+ apprentices, we'd typically recommend upwards of £6.50 - £7.00. Some employers do pay more, and the maximum apprentice wage is solely for you as the employer to decide. There other ways to add a win/win outcome to the question of an Apprentice wage without it costing a lot more.

For example, if you are looking for someone in a sales role, you could offer a commission or bonus structure?

In addition, the increased incentives payments that are available for hiring an apprentice is not up to £3000 from the previous £1000.  So, you may have some room to offer a little more to your learner.


Offering a wage slightly higher than the apprenticeship minimum means you can still make a saving when employing an apprentice. You can expand your role to a broader range of talent to those who may have previously considered this training route out of reach.

Offering a higher wage also sets the expectations, skills and responsibilities of a particular job role.  For example, if you seek to hire a data analyst, you will require the candidate to have a certain standard of qualification already. Larger companies will be offering graduate apprenticeships in these subjects, and employers offer salaries around £16,000 to £21,000 for the right candidate, positioning their apprenticeship programmes alongside graduate entry schemes.


For a young apprentice, getting paid a wage is great as they can earn whilst they learn and gain financial independence for the first time and can kickstart their careers without amassing university debts.

However, apprenticeships are not just for young people with minimal living costs. For an older apprentice or someone without a financial safety net, accepting a role paid at the apprentice minimum wage may not be a viable option once housing, transport and living taken into account.

Apprenticeships create opportunity for people from all kinds of backgrounds and experience. And with the incentives available for employing an apprentice of any age, there is a much more diverse talent pool available to employers, including career changers, young people without financial support, university graduates, and people with childcare costs. These are people with a wealth of life experience and unique perspectives that can enhance your organisation.

There isn't a 'one glove fits all' process for employing apprentices. We don't want to limit employers from finding their perfect apprentice, or indeed a candidate from finding their perfect opportunity. 

As our employers, you play an essential role in increasing diversity amongst our apprentices. Depending on your position and the job role, considering offering a slightly higher wage could widen your talent reach, increase the speed at which you hire, and bring the perfect match experience and talent to your team.

If you would like to discuss the various options to add talent to your workforce, please get in touch with our specialist advisors.

10 May 2021