UK minimum wage makes work experience more appealing | Twin UK

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Could the UK's national living wage be the key to ending our hospitality staff shortage?

Attractive UK minimum wage sees increase in paid work experience enquiries
Visit Work and Volunteer

Attractive UK minimum wage sees increase in paid work experience enquiries

By Beth Hepple; For many EU and international students, completing a work experience placement in the UK can be highly beneficial for their career progression. Not only are students able to improve their employability skills, the work environment also provides the ideal opportunity for them to better their English language ability, a crucial skill for further work and study. Here at Twin, we recently discussed the fact that the increase in the minimum wage has made work experience here more attractive and this is arguably the main selling point of working here, especially when those rates are compared to those in the EU and worldwide.

'The average minimum earnings in the UK can be up to eight times greater than other countries'

How does the UK compare?

In April of this year, the UK government made changes to the rate of minimum wage, making it even more appealing than it was before. The introduction of the National Living Wage means that those aged 25 and over can now earn a minimum of £7.20 per hour, a stark difference in comparison to the rates in other parts of the world. This means that for your average full-time UK working week of 40 hours, adults can earn a whopping £1152 per month before tax. This seems pretty standard to your average Brit, but for the countries with the lowest rates of minimum wage, such as Bulgaria, this is around 7.8 times the amount that they would normally earn in a month. For those aged 21-24, the earning potential remains fairly similar with the minimum wage currently standing at £6.70 per hour, 7.3 times the amount of Bulgaria. 

ChefA win-win situation for all those involved

As well as being beneficial for students, here in the UK, we also benefit from having an international input and cultural exchange, in some sectors even more than others. A quick online search reveals that in the UK, we have a staff shortage in the hospitality industry, paid roles that can be quickly filled by keen workers, mostly those from the EU who want a taste of work-life and to improve their English. Some of the main roles where there is a severe lack of staff are in the culinary industry including Commis Chefs, Chefs de Partie and Sous Chefs. This means that here in the UK, we rely on our friends overseas to provide some of the restaurant food that we enjoy.

On our own Hospitality Training Programme, we have candidates who come from countries which are heavily reliant on tourism such as Spain, Portugal and Bulgaria. They come to the UK on a long-term placement for a minimum of six months, filling the staff shortage void and developing their own skills, that they can transfer to roles in their home countries. Such experience is essential for people from certain regions of Spain, Italy, Portugal, Bulgaria and other places which are regularly frequented by tourists, as English is predominantly the language of choice for non-native speakers, making it easier for both staff and tourists to communicate to each other.

'International workers are filling the hospitality employment void'

MaidSo, what are the minimum wage rates across the EU?

There is a substantial difference in the amount of wages that are paid to workers in the UK compared to other countries across the globe. Below is a list of minimum wage rates based on the most popular country of origin of our Hospitality Training Programme. The most recent published rates, which were obtained through online research, show that there is a vast difference in the minimum wage rate of these countries. The average wage of the locations below is £3.48, less than half of the average living wage in the UK and France and around half the minimum wage of Germany.

Country Minimum Wage Living Wage Difference Minimum Wage Difference Monthly earnings for 20 hours per week (before tax) Monthly earnings for 40 hours per week (before tax)

United Kingdom Living Wage

£7.20   £576.00 £1152.00
United Kingdom Minimum Wage £6.70   £536.00 £1072.00
Bulgaria £0.92 -£6.28 -£5.78 £73.60 £147.20
Czech Republic £1.70 -£5.50 -£5.00 £136.00 £272.00
Estonia £1.91 -£5.29 -£4.79 £152.80 £305.60
France £7.57 +£0.37 +£0.87 £605.60 £1211.20
Germany £6.89 -£0.31 +£0.19 £551.20 £1102.40
Hungary £1.60 -£5.60 -£5.10 £128.00 £256.00
Italy No minimum wage  
Lithuania £1.55 -£5.65 -£5.15 £124.00 £248.00
Portugal £3.24 -£3.96 -£3.46 £259.20 £518.40
Romania £1.69 -£5.51 -£5.01 £135.20 £270.40
Spain £3.97 -£3.23 -£2.73 £317.60 £635.20

But what about the rest of the world?

Based on this data, there has never been a better time for EU students to find quality work experience in the UK. But does the same apply for international students? In short, yes. Although it is more difficult for those outside the EU to obtain a visa to live and work in the UK, there are citizens of other countries with dual-European nationality and those with specialist skills (such as engineering) who could secure a visa which would allow them to complete a paid UK work experience placement. The table below highlights the wage variations of these nations and the UK. 

Country Minimum Wage Living Wage Difference Minimum Wage Difference Monthly earnings for 20 hours per week (before tax) Monthly earnings for 40 hours per week (before tax)

United Kingdom Living Wage

£7.20   £576.00 £1152.00
United Kingdom Minimum Wage £6.70   £536.00 £1072.00
Argentina £2.68 -£4.52 -£4.02 £214.40 £428.80
Brazil £1.39 -£5.81 -£5.31 £111.20 £222.40
Hong Kong £2.91 -£4.29 -£3.79 £232.80 £931.20
Japan £4.83 -£2.37 -£1.87 £386.40 £772.80
South Korea £3.60 -£3.60 -£3.10 £288.00 £576.00

Is UK work experience all that it's cracked up to be? 

Some may argue that although the wages received in the UK are higher than other countries, the cost of living is higher; however, the amount of disposable income of a UK household also tends to be much higher, often counteracting this issue. There are also other countries where the cost of essentials such as groceries and consumer goods is high, but the minimum wage is lower than that in the UK, such as New Zealand, making employment here even more attractive. The cost of living is higher in the UK than in other parts of the world, but the life experience and cultural exchange that people gain makes UK work experience, whether long or short term, so much more appealing and creates more opportunities for candidates when they return home.

Country Minimum Wage Living Wage Difference Minimum Wage Difference Monthly earnings for 20 hours per week (before tax) Monthly earnings for 40 hours per week (before tax)

United Kingdom Living Wage

£7.20   £576.00 £1152.00
United Kingdom Minimum Wage £6.70   £536.00 £1072.00
Australia £8.91 +£1.71 +£2.21 £712.80 £1425.60
Canada £6.08 -£1.12 -£0.62 £486.40 £972.80
New Zealand £6.00 -£1.20 -£0.70 £480.00 £960.00

If the minimum wage of the UK remains so attractive and we continue to have a shortage of skilled workers in the hospitality industry, then this cultural exchange is set to continue. The UK is a nation which continues to create opportunities for people from all over the world combining both British work values and international experience to create an ideal working balance. Our work experience department regularly receive outstanding feedback from host companies, positive testimonials from participating students and have regular requests from candidates for roles across many sectors including the sought after hospitality sector.

Further information regarding our Hospitality Training Programme (HTP) can be found on our Work and Volunteer website.


Find out more about HTP


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