Apprentice Decent Wage Pledge

About ‘Back the Future’

‘Back the Future’ is a collective of employers, intermediaries and apprenticeship training providers who believe we should be backing the UK’s future talent pipeline by not paying apprentice minimum wages, but by providing decent and fair pay for all apprentices employed in the UK. We are committed to addressing social mobility issues by ensuring individuals are not put off applying for apprenticeships because pay is too low.

The campaign was launched in 2021 by Robert Watts, chair of the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education’s research scientist trailblazer group. The Apprentice Decent Wage Pledge has been created to encourage employers to pay apprentices a fair salary over and above the national minimum wage for apprentices (currently £4.30 per hour).

Employers of apprentices have a responsibility to be aware of the effects that their wage decisions have on the individuals undertaking their apprenticeships. Whilst it can be attractive to pay lower wages to apprentices as part of their development programs, these low wages can act as a barrier and make apprenticeships exclusive rather than inclusive programs, and cause individuals to not be able to undertake programs to help them reach their potential.

– Robert Watts, founder of the ‘Back the Future’ campaign

Current Issues

  • Some employers still see apprenticeships as “cheap labour” and are paying apprentice minimum wages that are set by Government. This is putting many individuals off applying for apprenticeships as they cannot survive on minimum wage.
  • There is a high drop out rate of apprentices employed on low wages. They simply cannot survive, eat and pay bills.
  • Potential apprentices are missing out on the opportunity to be more socially mobile and gain higher qualifications as they are stuck in a wage trap and not able to move forwards with their careers or aspirations.
  • Apprentices are getting paid less than other people the same age and/or doing similar roles.
  • Those students currently signed up to the “free school meals” initiative in schools are less likely to take on an apprenticeship than those that are not.
  • Low apprentices’ wages have a direct impact on those families who have low income or who are claiming benefits
  • Apprentices – Apprentices are entitled to the apprentice rate if they’re either:
    • aged under 19
    • aged 19 or over;
    • and in the first year of their apprenticeship