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Apprenticeship pay changes at Northumberland County Council

Northumberland's County Hall at Morpeth
Northumberland's County Hall at Morpeth

A new pay structure for apprentices at Northumberland County Council has been approved.

The main aim was to provide a grading system which reflects the age, experience and level of apprentices at the local authority, while also offering fair pay progression.

At the cabinet meeting on Tuesday, councillors agreed to adopt a new structure ‘which reflects the marketplace’ in relation to higher and degree-level apprenticeships, as well as to formalise current pay arrangements based on the minimum and living wage.

The current structure sees apprentices paid £3.70 per hour (or £7,119 annually) for the first year, regardless of their age, while in the second year of their apprenticeships, they are paid on a scale – from £4.20 per hour (£8,080 annually) for under 18s up to £7.83 (£15,065) for over 25s.

A report to councillors said: ‘These rates have been effective for the recruitment of young people to the apprenticeship programme for their first jobs and offer reasonable pay progression for lower-level apprenticeships.

‘However, since the introduction of the degree apprenticeships, the pay rates do not reflect the prior attainment of applicants who want to enter the council directly at the higher levels.

‘As the higher and degree level programme grows, attracting people to apply for this programme will be hindered by the current pay arrangements.’

The solution is a new pay structure for higher and degree-level apprenticeships, with increases each year, although pay progression would not be automatic and apprentices would be assessed.

It means that in the third year of an undergraduate apprenticeship, someone could earn £18,070 a year, while in the third year of a degree apprenticeship, the salary would be £20,661 annually.

Council leader Peter Jackson said: “This is a very exciting way to take our workforce training programme forward. I’m very happy to support this.”

By Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service