This is the thing – the starting out wage is an option only. It is a minimum, not a maximum.
I employ a large number of young people at Curia. I would never dream of offering youth rates to my staff, because I deliberately pay for quality (in fact a recent industry survey showed our rates were the highest of all research companies that took part).
But what is right for some employers is not right for others. Flexibility is a good thing. For some employers being able to hire a 17 year old (or an 18 year old who has been on a benefit for six months) for a bit less, will mean they’ll offer them that job, rather than someone more experienced. And getting people into their first job is critically important.