Apprentices’ lifetime earnings surpassing university graduates’ by up to 270%, report finds

Apprentices in the arts, media and publishing industries are earning the most

Aftab Ali
Student Editor
Tuesday 16 August 2016 12:23
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The amount apprentices earn over the course of their lives is outstripping that of graduates by up to 270 per cent, according to a new report.

Those in the arts, media, and publishing industries are making up to 270 per cent more than those who went to university, while apprentices in agriculture, horticulture, and animal care are taking home 211 per cent more than graduates.

The findings have come to light in a new report jointly released by Barclays and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) which shows the amount apprentices in some sectors are making is well over the average gap in lifetime earnings potential between apprentices and graduates; at just 1.8 per cent, the average lifetime earning premium difference for the two study paths is at just £2,200, equivalent to just £4 a month.

The report rebukes a range of common misconceptions about apprenticeships, including that they are only relevant for those looking for careers in vocational or manual industries; business, administration, and law have accounted for the most apprenticeship starts in 2014/15 - 29 per cent - closely followed by health, public services, and care at 26 per cent.

There were over 89,600 apprentice starts within the retail and commercial enterprise sector, and over 74,100 within engineering and manufacturing technologies. In addition to this, the report makes it clear that apprenticeships are a popular and feasible career path regardless of age with 43 per cent of apprenticeship starts by people aged 25 and over in 2014/15 enrolling on some programmes.

The report has also revealed how apprenticeships have grown substantially in popularity over time; uptake has more than doubled in the past decade, with almost half a million starting in the 2014/15 academic year. Barclays has predicted these figures will grow “exponentially” in the coming years as potential university applicants face a challenging and unpredictable financial landscape as the abolition of maintenance grants and continuous increases in tuition fees create a potential financial burden, putting university out of reach for many.

Mike Thompson, head of apprentices at Barclays described how the figures released show quantifiably, for the first time, that apprentices are getting “a hidden pay cheque,” through earning while working, that is comparable or - in some cases - higher than university graduates.

He said: “This bonus means they can fast track themselves to home or car ownership, as well as through their careers, without worrying about long-term student debt. Apprenticeships should be considered a viable and valuable career path and a genuine alternative to university, and these new figures strongly back that up.”

Rajini Jayasuriya from Cebr, added how, currently, approximately 35 per cent of roles in the electricity, gas, and water industry are vacant as a result of “insufficient skills” to meet business demands, but just 0.4 per cent of graduates chose to work in this sector in 2014/15. He explained: “For the UK economy to grow further, the skills shortage will need to be addressed. Apprentices can fill the UK skills gaps, while offering a high level of productivity to the businesses they work for.”

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