Stockton MP Alex Cunningham defends plan to pay apprentice £3.37 an hour

Darlington and Stockton Times: Alex Cunningham Alex Cunningham

A NORTH-East Labour MP who has championed young people in the past has defended his plan to pay an apprentice just £3.37 an hour.

Alex Cunningham, who represents Stockton North, has been criticised after it emerged he was proposing to pay £125 for a 37-hour week to the successful applicant for his Intermediate Apprenticeship in Business Administration post.

His website has a Youth Manifesto section in which he states: "It is wrong for two people of different ages, who sit alongside each other doing the same job, to receive different wages."

Mr Cunningham said the rate is 25 per cent higher than the legal minimum for an apprentice, and he said the wage will increase as the young person develops.

The Teesside MP said: "I have spent a large part of my life championing the cause of young people and every time I visit an employer I challenge them to take on apprentices so believe I ought to lead by example.

"I created the 12-month post alongside my team to provide a young person with a genuine opportunity to learn and achieve qualifications through a reputable college - a post that wouldnt otherwise exist.

"If it didn't exist my current staff team would absorb any tasks undertaken by the young person.

"The apprentice starting wage is 25 per cent above the minimum wage and will be increased to reflect the tasks undertaken by the young person as they develop.

"I only hope that the publicity created about the matter results in more young people applying for the post - but more importantly, highlight the importance of apprenticeships and encourage other employers to recruit young people and give them a chance to succeed."

When he asked on Twitter if he should not offer the post because he cannot pay the apprentice £7 an hour, one person replied: "No, you should make savings elsewhere to afford it or do the honourable thing & step down & become a coalition MP as that's why people voted for you."

Comments (5)

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5:34pm Tue 25 Feb 14

loan_star says...

Mr Cunningham is doing nothing wrong at all. Why do people think that incentivising a new employee by increasing pay as and when experience is gained is a bad idea?
Mr Cunningham is doing nothing wrong at all. Why do people think that incentivising a new employee by increasing pay as and when experience is gained is a bad idea? loan_star

5:57pm Tue 25 Feb 14

behonest says...

Double standards and miserly pay from a miserly Labour MP. You'd think he'd at least set an example by paying the national minimum wage, rather than playing the system and using the term 'apprentice' to get away with paying less.
Double standards and miserly pay from a miserly Labour MP. You'd think he'd at least set an example by paying the national minimum wage, rather than playing the system and using the term 'apprentice' to get away with paying less. behonest

5:12am Wed 26 Feb 14

BMD says...

Well done Mr Cunningham, for giving a school leaver the opportunity to train as an apprentice.
The candidate will receive full training and college education; starting from the ground up will only strengthen the candidate’s skills and perception, this is a great start in life for the successful applicant.
Well done Mr Cunningham, for giving a school leaver the opportunity to train as an apprentice. The candidate will receive full training and college education; starting from the ground up will only strengthen the candidate’s skills and perception, this is a great start in life for the successful applicant. BMD

7:01am Wed 26 Feb 14

Ally F says...

As a mechanical engineering apprentice my starting hourly rate was £1.87 a hour. That was quite generous, there was no legal minimum back in 1988. Prior to then the only money to my name was pocket money from my parents and very occasional cash in hand casual pub kitchen work. I thought I was rich taking home £75 a week in my pay packet for sweeping the factory floor.

Nothing wrong with starting at the bottom and working your way up. Far too many graduates with absolutely no work experience or experience of life in the real world expect to land high flying jobs with starting salaries of £30K or more. (That partly explains why so many graduates are still stuck living with their parents living off the bank and Mum and Dad in their late 20s and early 30s.)

It took me 12 years of employment and training to reach £30K. I never for one minute regret leaving school at 16 and getting out in the world of work by taking up an apprenticeship. A degree followed later in life, as did career and salary progression.

Good on Jack Cunningham. A Tory MP would employ their spouse, son or daughter on some extortionate tax payer funded salary to do the same work.
As a mechanical engineering apprentice my starting hourly rate was £1.87 a hour. That was quite generous, there was no legal minimum back in 1988. Prior to then the only money to my name was pocket money from my parents and very occasional cash in hand casual pub kitchen work. I thought I was rich taking home £75 a week in my pay packet for sweeping the factory floor. Nothing wrong with starting at the bottom and working your way up. Far too many graduates with absolutely no work experience or experience of life in the real world expect to land high flying jobs with starting salaries of £30K or more. (That partly explains why so many graduates are still stuck living with their parents living off the bank and Mum and Dad in their late 20s and early 30s.) It took me 12 years of employment and training to reach £30K. I never for one minute regret leaving school at 16 and getting out in the world of work by taking up an apprenticeship. A degree followed later in life, as did career and salary progression. Good on Jack Cunningham. A Tory MP would employ their spouse, son or daughter on some extortionate tax payer funded salary to do the same work. Ally F

3:49pm Wed 26 Feb 14

David Lacey says...

Jack?
Jack? David Lacey

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