NEW Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham has announced a ‘new deal for apprentices’ in the region today.

The former Leigh MP says the aim is to improve the quality of apprenticeships and ensure that apprentices are not paid less than the minimum wage for other young people in work.

Speaking at the Greater Manchester Apprenticeship Company’s inaugural staff conference at the Etihad Stadium, Mr Burnham said: “We all have a role to play and that is why today I am announcing a new deal for apprentices in Greater Manchester.

“Our new deal will mean apprentices are guaranteed a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work and are equipped with the skills to succeed.

“No young apprentice in Greater Manchester should be paid less than the national minimum wage for other young people in work ¬– £3.50 an hour is simply not enough.

“Public sector bodies in Greater Manchester are already leading by example and working towards paying young apprentices the proper national minimum wage.

“It is time for every employer in Greater Manchester to follow suit.

“But we know that apprenticeships are more than just a way to make a living, it is about getting the skills to release your full potential and kick start your career.

“Everyone in this room knows the value of high-quality, purposeful apprenticeships that equip the next generation to take up the high skilled jobs being created here.

“Those are the only kind of apprenticeships we should offer young people in Greater Manchester.

“Over the next three years Greater Manchester’s public sector will deliver 10,000 new apprenticeship starts.

“Our offer to them should be ‘we will pay you a fair wage and give you the real skills to be all you can be’.

“Coupled with this, as we develop further an enhanced UCAS-style application system I guarantee that it will only offer quality apprenticeship and traineeship opportunities, alongside other high quality training and skills development.

“It is how we bridge the skills gap, drive productivity and make a success of Brexit.

“It is good for our young people, good for business and good for Greater Manchester.

“The new deal will also form an important part of my Good Employers' Charter.

“I want to work alongside businesses to set out the basic standards and actions we expected of good employers here in Greater Manchester.”