Council under fire for cutting down on apprentice pay

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APPRENTICES employed by Portsmouth City Council are to have their pay cut.

The council, which employs 37 apprentices, says it wants to employ more young people and give them educational opportunities.

But a report produced by officers ahead of an employment committee meeting next week asks members to consider reducing the pay of apprentices from £12,614 per annum (£6.55 per hour) to £9,870.

The latter figure would be in line with the minimum wage for 18 to 20-year-olds at £5.13 an hour.

The minimum wage for apprentices is just £2.73 an hour.

Leader of the city council Councillor Donna Jones said she has written to the heads of all of the authority’s services, asking them to consider taking on more apprentices and says the lower pay level means more can be employed.

But a union official has criticised the approach to taking on apprentices as low-paid employees, saying the council is exploiting young people.

Richard White, Unite convenor for the city council, was critical of the idea to reduce pay and said members wanted apprentices to be taken on by the council.

He said: ‘They have already made changes which have had a big impact.

‘This shows they are trying to use people rather than upskill them and give them a proper job. We do want apprentices but we want proper apprenticeships that lead to a job. The ones that exist at the moment do not offer a job at the end.

‘The council is advertising for a civil enforcement apprentice.

‘They are going to be trained for a year and then have no job.

‘If the local authority is not going to employ a traffic warden then who will?

‘They are exploiting people in my opinion.’

Cllr Jones said she was ‘very disappointed’ with the number of apprentices in position when she became leader in June and hopes more will be employed.

‘Out of 4,000 staff we had 25 apprentices,’ she said.

‘I have written to all of the heads of service asking for them to accommodate apprentices and I have spoken to our contractors about apprentices.’