Minimum wage for apprentices may be setUnions in the UK have welcomed proposals that would see a minimum wage being set for apprentices, a plan that is hoped will protect such people from exploitation and may boost motivation.

Currently, apprentices under the age of 18 are not subject to the National Minimum Wage, while those aged over 19 do not benefit until one year has been spent in employment.

Last week the government asserted that the Low Pay Commission was set to consider the proposals.

Brendan Barber, Trades Union Congress (TUC) general secretary, said: “Protecting apprentices from low pay and exploitation through the minimum wage would be a small cost to a minority of employers but would go a long way towards boosting the quality and reputation of apprenticeships.”

Earlier, business minister Pat McFadden said the commission was examining the proposals by balancing the needs of low-paid workers with the cost to employers.

Last week, Mr Barber said that while some commentators may be saying the end of the recession is approaching, this is of little comfort to out-of-work Britons.