This week I discussed the issue of the remuneration of MCAST
apprentices with my colleagues at Alternattiva Demokratika Zghazagh.
The apprenticeship scheme is commendable, since it gives apprentices
the opportunity to expand their technical skills and knowledge. Recent improvements to the scheme are also very welcome, however there is a major issue which
needs to be addressed.
During the summer months, students work on a full-time basis, that is
fourty hours per week. They would have already undergone training
during the academic year – working 16 hours per week. Apprentices
often carry out the same jobs of other employees, at the same quality,
but are paid an allowance for their work instead of a wage. The
stipulated working times, makes it difficult for students from finding
jobs on a part time basis, to supplement their income. We at ADZ
believe that the apprenticeship concept is a one beneficial one,
especially in the field of vocational education and that therefore it
should be improved upon. It is unfair for students who work as
full-timers during the summer months, to be paid an allowance for
full-time work. The minimum pay should be that of all other employees
whatever their skill level – that is, at least the minimum wage.
This point has also been made by the European Trade Union Council
(ETUC) in their policy document issued very recently – ‘A European
Quality Framework for Apprenticeships’ – in which ETUC asks that
‘Apprenticeship schemes should ensure that apprentices are paid by the
employer, according to collective agreements, or a national and/or
sectoral minimum legal wage, for the period of training’ (p. 36).
We at ADZ appeal to Maltese trade unions to take up the call of ETUC
and help apprentices to get a fair pay for their work.
James Gabarretta, Alternattiva Demokratika Zghazagh