In the three months to June UK unemployment fell by 4,000 according to the Office National statistics (ONS). This still leaves 2.51 million out of work and in July the amount of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance was 1.4 million, despite being down 29,000.

Worryingly youth unemployment, among those aged 16-24, increased by 15,000 to reach 973,000. GSCE grades were out recently and combined with the reported dip in top A-Level grades, and the fact that achieving the highest grades does not guarantee you a place at your choice of University and course, it could leave many young people wondering which way to turn.

One option young people have is to apply for an apprenticeship that leads to a skilled trade or profession. This month 34% of 2,300 16 to 25-year-olds with
poor grades polled for The Prince’s Trust charity believed they would “end up on benefits”.

Data published by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) in January 2013 reported that in the 2011/12 academic year there were 520,600 apprenticeship starts. Much of this increase is due to many more people aged 25
and over starting apprenticeships. The majority of people starting apprenticeships choose frameworks in the service sectors, such as business administration and retail.

If you believe your business has room for an apprentice here are some laws you
need to know.

  • Apprentices and apprenticeships have been incorporated into employment law, this means that apprentices must have an employment contract,
    although it is a special form of employment contract. It is a contract of
    training rather than actual employment. The primary purpose of the contract is training; the work the Apprentice completes forms a secondary part of the contract, but employment rights will still apply.
  • An apprentice whose contract is terminated prematurely may claim breach of contract for which the damages would normally be lost pay and benefits for the entire remaining period of the apprenticeship (unless another employer is found who is willing and able to continue the training).
  • An apprentice has all the normal statutory employment rights such as maternity and paternity rights, the right not to be unfairly dismissed etc. If the apprentice is young (although it should not be assumed that they will be) special care must be taken in relation to health and safety and working time requirements.
  • The government pays a proportion of the training costs for apprentices, depending on their age. You as the employer will normally cover any remaining training costs. The government contributes: 100% of the training
    costs if the apprentice is aged 16-18 50% of the training costs if the apprentice is aged 19-24. Up to 50% of the training costs if the apprentice is
    aged over 25. The minimum wage for an apprentice is £2.65 per hour.

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