NUS Scotland condemns unfair treatment of apprentices

NUS Scotland condemns unfair treatment of apprentices

Bodies representing students and apprentices call for Scottish and UK Governments to stop treating apprentices as an afterthought

NUS Scotland and the National Society of Apprentices (NSoA) today welcome the confirmed end of the delay to new Modern Apprenticeships but express deep concern that this delay was ever allowed to happen by the Scottish Government.

New Modern Apprenticeships would normally have taken place from 1 April 2024 but were delayed as the result of the Scottish Government delaying the approval of the budget for Skills Development Scotland (SDS), the agency which delivers them.

Following a statement by the Scottish Training Federation (STF) concerning the freeze on new apprenticeships and its potentially devastating impacts, and a resulting public outcry, the Scottish Government yesterday agreed the budget for SDS allowing for new Modern Apprenticeships to begin 16 April 2024.

NUS Scotland and the NSoA condemn this unnecessary delay and the distress and disruption it has caused to the lives, education, and livelihoods of new apprentices in Scotland. Both organisations believe this incident exemplifies government’s general approach to apprentices, who at best can expect to be treated as an afterthought.

Across the UK the apprentice minimum wage is £6.40, significantly short of the real living wage at £12. The basis is for this difference is that it is regarded as apprentices’ contribution to the cost of their training. However, this results in apprentices in Scotland paying over £10,000 a year for their education, while home students in Scotland rightly pay no tuition fees.

In its manifesto for the upcoming general election, Manifesto for our Future, NUS Scotland is calling for MPs to extend the Real Living Wage to all apprentices, or to devolve employment powers to Scotland so that the Scottish Parliament can take the action needed to give all of Scotland’s students and apprentices the dignity they deserve.

Commenting, Susan Loughlin, Leadership team NSoA said

“It is hard to fully express the outrage of 38 thousand apprentices and the thousands of others waiting to start their apprenticeship who were left in the lurch by this careless disregard. We hear so much about the ‘quality education’ that apprentices are signing up for, but this disastrous mismanagement really shows the true quality of what we are getting.

No college or university student would be expected to tolerate this. So why are we? Where is our Student Protection plan?

Apprentices across Scotland and the UK deserve better than to be a mere afterthought to our governments. Public institutions shouldn’t have to throw up a fuss just for us to get funding on time. We shouldn’t be struggling to make ends meet while working and learning. We need to be treated fairly and we need a real living wage.”

Support raising the apprentice minimum wage to the real living wage.

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