The Slave Wage: Apprenticeship schemes in the UK

Throughout my miserable office career I’ve come across ya’ standard nonsense that permeates throughout these places. No, no-one cares about your stapler.

I’ve noticed a hardening in recent years, a more callous approach to the well being of our fellow human beings. Quite frankly, you meatbags are disposable.

Especially if you’re young.

I can only speak from what I’ve seen in your standard soul destroying office job. In the space of a couple of years I’ve gone through 5 different apprentices.

An anecdotal experience. Ah, the most scientific of all the thoughts.

The apprentices are thrown in at the deep end, replacing the kindly office secretary as the first point of contact to the general public. Yes you heard that correctly. 17 year olds are the first thing you’ll hear or see when contacting a professional office. None of this is a slight on the apprentices, as they often do an excellent job, but crumble when asked anything beyond ‘who would you like to speak to?’ Of course, some of them do what I would have done at the age of 17. Not give a shit.

Often with little, to no training, they are the face of the piss-poor business looking to save a buck.

Year 25 and over 21 to 24 18 to 20 Under 18 Apprentice
April 2017 £7.50 £7.05 £5.60 £4.05 £3.50


Brilliantly the company gains little long term benefits from this exploitation.

Just as someone’s trained to be half competent, most apprentices correctly move on for a better wage, long before the year long scheme comes to an end. Others, that would like to stay on are offered a wage so derisory, the only real choice left to them is to work elsewhere. At least elsewhere they are offered more than the bare legal minimum of holiday allowance.

28 days is the minimum amount of holiday a company can offer. Of course, the employer can choose include public and bank holidays. So you are left with 21 days. Naturally this company closes over the period Christmas, and will include these days too. So that’s an additional 5 days gleefully removed from your yearly holiday allowance.

You are left with 16 days holiday for the entire year. A bare minimum company and not uncommon amongst the miserly.

Once a month a representative from the apprenticeship training company is scheduled to visit the apprentice. They introduce the apprentice to the online systems they’ll be using and will aid them with their coursework. These representatives never come once a month. Regardless of the organisation running the scheme, they’re always a disjointed mess. With revolving door staff and poorly set up IT systems, the apprentice receives the cheapest education possible, often ill-suited to their job role.

Please enjoy some updates

The current apprentice hasn’t spoken to the apprenticeship company in the her first week. Not even to check that she’s here. I did ask her what the name of that company is and she’s already forgotten.

Update – She has had no contact from the company in three weeks. Brilliantly she has to chase, hunt down and chase the apprenticeship company like a teenage Terminator.

Further update – Been a month and still no contact from the apprenticeship company.

Even further update – Way over a month… Still not visit nor contact.

Yes. Another update – They cancelled the planned visit on the 15th of May. Still waiting.

Three months later. Appointment arranged for the middle of June. If it happens.

I originally wrote this article on the 13th of April 2017, and today. Yes, the 26th of June 2017, they have arranged to visit the apprentice, to sort out the coursework. The apprentice had been sent a text from the training provider this morning and, of course, the apprentice’s name is wrong. Will 3 months of missing study be crammed into a vat of “business and administration” mush? What will happen if the works not complete by the end of the scheme? Who knows? I know they don’t care.

Good news. Apprentice had her visit and received has her coursework. Only took em 74 days to sort that out. Good luck young apprentice, Good luck to you all.

Final update – The company went bust and was taken over by another firm. No… She didn’t meet them as the company gave up on the scheme and she was dumped over the Xmas period.

Recently the newest apprentice had been given a timesheet to fill out. Right now she only answers the phone. Oh how we laughed, until we came to conclusion that she should note every single phonecall and toilet break in excruciating detail, until it resembles this…

I’m sure the scheme has done wonders for the unemployment figures. Wait? Who mentioned Sports Direct? 

Youth unemployment statistics 2017

Who doesn’t love a chart? Get them on zero hour contracts dammit! It all counts!

With a lack of training or prospects, what’s to stop them from walking out? You know the answer to that right? But don’t fret about the poor ol’ business, most apprentices are often replaced within a few days. Phew. Most of the apprentices leave the scheme disillusioned, some use the experience to find somewhere better. Others find nothing… such is life. None had learnt the trade directly from the experts and all had been disregarded with a flippant shrug.

I wonder what happened to all the kindly experienced office secretaries?

The great youth unemployment is a huge boon to the old fuckers running your friendly morally corrupt local businesses. I hope some corporations go beyond the exploitative work practices I’ve witnessed. The idea of your local tradesman tutoring a youth in a long standing trade, seems far removed from this scheme corrupted by the demand for cheap labour. An apprentice shouldn’t replace anyone, nor fill a position that once demanded a fair payday.

Pay your workers a decent wage, treat them with dignity, guide the next generation rather than exploit them. 


Oh ok. Let’s continue doing things the way they are.