Top apprentices set to out-earn graduates: Sutton Trust study

A new report from the Sutton Trust suggests that the most qualified apprentices will earn more in their lifetime than some graduates.

engineering apprentices
The education trust hopes that the research findings will begin to shift public perceptions that apprenticeships are "second-best" to graduate degrees, as well as bring more investment from the government into the much-vaunted apprenticeship scheme and improve social mobility as a result.According to the report, Levels of Success: The Potential of UK Apprenticeships, over the course of their working life, apprentices with level 5 qualifications can expect career earnings of almost £1.5 million.This is £50,000 more than lifetime earnings for graduates of non-Russell Group universities and below the close to £1.6 million of Russell Group university graduates. All figures, which were compiled by the Boston Consulting Group, are once the cost of going to university, average student debt levels and loss of earnings while studying are taken into consideration.However, although the report shows the best apprenticeships offer similar financial security to some undergraduate degrees, the Sutton Trust warns “the sector needs serious change if apprenticeships are to fulfil their potential as a vehicle for social mobility.”According to the Sutton Trust’s data, the majority of apprenticeships (60%) are set only at GCSE standard (level 2), which offer only marginally better lifetime earnings than secondary school qualifications alone.With just 30,000 apprenticeships offered to level 5 in recent years, it also fears that too many of the 3 million apprenticeships the government has pledged by 2020 will only be at level 2, playing into opinions that apprenticeships are second best to a university education.ComRes polling cited in the Sutton Trust’s report demonstrates how such perceptions appear “to be ingrained in UK culture.” Four out of five (80%) of the young people surveyed – who said they were more likely to go to university or higher education than start an apprenticeship – said they thought getting a degree would be better for their long-term career prospects. Other research also suggests only a third of parents actively consider guiding their child towards apprenticeships as the best option.The Sutton Trust points out that because apprenticeships are particularly popular with those from less advantaged backgrounds, the failure to provide higher standards affects this group more.Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Sutton Trust and of the Education Endowment Foundation, said at the study’s launch, “Today’s report shows that the best apprenticeships offer similar financial security as an undergraduate degree. “Although the government’s target for apprenticeships to 2020 is three million, we’ve only had 30,000 higher apprenticeships in the last two years.“We need more good apprenticeships to offer genuine alternatives to A-levels and degrees. We also need to tackle the ingrained negative culture of apprenticeships that exists amongst teachers, parents and young people alike.”Please follow the links for more education and HR news and features from Re:locate.