Colleges and training providers say employers should pay towards apprentice training programmes.

A survey conducted by Lsect asked if employers should continue to be allowed to contribute nothing towards the training for their apprentices.

Nearly three quarters of the people who replied – 73 per cent – said the employer should pay something towards training their employees.

Fiona Davis, funding and registry manager at Boston College, said: “Some employers are seen as using apprentices for cheap labour and this will only increase if the employer no longer has to make a financial contribution to the training.”

She said that a small contribution from the employee may make them more likely to complete a course, but if the apprentice is on minimum wage to expect them to fund the apprenticeship is unaffordable.

Funding for apprenticeship training has been a source of controversy following the government’s further education reform programme.

The employer is expected to make a 50 per cent contribution to the fees but they are currently allowed to make no contribution at all.

This means that in some cases the learner will be expected to fund their own training.

Apprentices over the age of 24 are going to be charged for studying their first level 3 qualification and loans will be offered to those who cannot afford to pay fees upfront.

The maximum loan that can be taken for studying is £4,000 but there is no limit to what colleges can charge for the qualifications.