Children leaving care who work in apprenticeships will be better paid thanks to a move taken by Derbyshire County Council.
The authority’s Care Leavers Employment Team helps young people aged 16 to 19 who are leaving care to find post-16 education, training and employment.
Now the council is making sure those on apprenticeship schemes with firms working with the team receive the minimum wage – £3.72 for under 18s, £5.03 for 18-20s and £6.31 to those aged 21 and over. The rate for apprentices nationally is £2.68 an hour.
The increase will be backdated to October last year and help hundreds of young people in the long term.
Amy Louise Hopton, 21, is one of the apprentices who will be boosted by the pay increase and celebrated the good news today during national Apprenticeship Week 2014.
The St Joseph’s Little Scholars nursery nurse apprentice has been with her employer for a year and has just had her contract extended by 18 months.
She said: “This is great news for me, I’m really pleased.
“I’m about to start my NVQ Level 3 in childcare and this will help me save for driving lessons and eventually towards getting a car.
“It’s nice to know my work is valued.”
Councillor Kevin Gillott, Derbyshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: “We do our best for children in care and this includes giving them full backing and support when they prepare to leave us and start making their way in the world.
“Times are incredibly hard for everyone at the moment and even though we have to make huge savings in the next few years we’ve got to do right by the youngsters who are our responsibility.”
Cabinet agreed to pay care leavers apprentices working in the council’s in-house apprenticeship scheme the minimum wage in July last year.
A month ago the authority’s Cabinet agreed the introduction of a “living wage” policy for the lowest paid staff directly employed by the council.
From April the new living wage will be introduced at £7.65 an hour – the rate set independently, updated annually and calculated according to the basic cost of living in the UK.
Councillor Gillott added: “There are currently 11 young people in apprenticeships with a range of employers who will benefit from this latest decision.
“I’m delighted we’re support them and countless more youngsters in future – it’s the right and decent thing to do.”