Forget uni! Apprentices can earn thousands more than graduates

9th October 2015


Top apprentices are earnings thousands of pounds more over their careers than many university graduates.


A study published in the Sutton Trust said that high-quality apprenticeships offer the same level of financial security as undergraduate degrees and that a shift in culture is needed to acknowledge the value of vocational courses.


Young people who opt to study for a Level 5 higher apprenticeship – which is equivalent to a foundation degree – will earn around £1.44 million over their lifetime, almost £52,000 more than a student from a non-Russell Group university who take home around £1.39 million in their lifetime.


Those who attend Russell Group universities earn around £1.6 million in their lifetime. However, those who gain their degree from Oxford or Cambridge have the most earning power, taking home £1.79 million over their lifetime.


The figures, which were calculated by the Boston Consulting Group, take into account the cost of going to university, including average student debt levels, and the ability for apprentices to earn while they learn.


There are around 10,000 apprenticeships undertaken each year to varying levels. Less than a third, 32%, of apprenticeships starts have been by under-19 years olds and elite apprenticeships are also taken by people from wealthier backgrounds.


Four in five young people thought that a degree, rather than an apprenticeship, would be better for their career options but Sutton Trust chairman Peter Lampl said the culture needed addressing.


‘If undergraduate degrees are seen as a gold standard, these vocational qualifications are too often seen as ‘second best’, or a ‘fall back option’,’ he said.


‘But some of the UK’s most famous and successful entrepreneurs were formerly apprentices – from the celebrity chef Jamie Oliver to the billionaire jeweller Lawrence Graff to the late fashion designer Alexander McQueen.


‘Success can come through apprenticeships, but work is needed to boost their quantity and quality and change their public perception.’


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