Sir, The prime minister’s industrial strategy, as and when it takes its final form, would do well to draw upon Alice Thomson’s analysis of career options for youngsters (Feb 1). Short, sharp apprenticeships which open up the prospect of healthy wage packets should be pitched as a premier option for teenagers deciding which of life’s paths to take.
In response to my recent request for data, the Office for National Statistics has found that last year, when graduates’ median hourly pay fell, median hourly pay among workers who had completed an apprenticeship increased by 3.7 per cent. Moreover, the proportion of people in work with only an undergraduate degree earning a lower gross hourly wage than those who had completed an apprenticeship increased by six percentage points in 2016, from 26 per cent to 32 per cent.
Some organisations now offer ten-week courses that teach basic skills in bricklaying, carpentry, and plumbing. At the end of their first year in work, young workers with this apprenticeship are taking home up to £150 a day.
By promoting such apprenticeships among school-leavers, the government could plug labour shortages without resorting to workers from overseas. It would also move us one step closer to being a country that offers all of its citizens the chance to earn a decent living.
Frank Field MP
House of Commons