An apprenticeship is where a young individual works in the shop of a tradesman, learning a new career for his or her life. In some countries, an apprentice minimum wage may be in effect for these young workers, though this is not always the case. Many factors can affect the apprentice minimum wage, including items such as the trade in which the apprenticeship exists, demand for apprentices, and laws governing payments. Lower wages are usually paid to apprentices as these individuals do not bring the same amount of skills or education as an older worker. Other factors may play into the use of apprentices, though these may be specific to particular companies.
In most cases, apprenticeships exist in trades rather than traditional job environments, though the latter may have some unpaid internships. Apprentice minimum wage may be set at a certain level for a given industry, such as plumbing or ironworks. A trade union or other industry-specific body may govern the payments made to apprentices and their wages for certain positions. Companies may be bound to these guidelines and rules as they are part of a union or other restrictive group that places restrictions on apprentice minimum wage. These wages may be on a sliding scale, however, that allows for higher wages as apprentices continue working in the trade.
The demand for apprentices may also affect the apprentice minimum wage, as is the case for most supply-and-demand concepts in a free market. When the demand for apprentices increases in a given trade or industry, a corresponding increase in the apprentice minimum wage may also occur. This is true because companies need more workers for future positions due to a current lack of experienced workers. Though an apprentice may not be able to work in a full manner early on in a career, he or she can handle small tasks and allow more experienced workers to complete more technical tasks. The demand may be different for certain industries using apprentices.
In some countries, specific laws may govern the apprentice minimum wage paid for these young workers. These minimum levels ensure that companies or industries do not abuse young workers through unreasonable wages. Laws for apprentice minimum wage set a floor, with companies being able to increase wages as they see fit. In other cases, a scaled apprentice wage may exist that requires higher minimum wages for more experienced apprentices. These laws may be specific to certain industries or job types for apprentices.