Apprentice earnings may outstrip graduates

A new report has claimed that apprentices can earn up to 270% more over their careers than university grads.

The report, Productivity and Lifetime Earnings of Apprentices and Graduates, was jointly released by Barclays and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR).

It revealed that the average gap in lifetime earnings potential between apprentices and graduates was just 1.8%, with the average lifetime earning premium (LEP) difference for the two study paths at just £2,200.

The report also rebutted 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 accounted for the most apprenticeship starts in 2014/15 (29%), closely followed by health, public services and care (26%).


A ‘hidden pay cheque’

“These figures 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,” said Mike Thompson, head of apprentices for Barclays. “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.”

The report also claims that apprenticeships are a popular and feasible career path regardless of age – with 43% of apprenticeships started by people aged over 25 in 2014/15 enrolling on programmes such as the Barclays Bolder, which has no upper age limit.

Barclays has been an enthusiastic proponent of apprenticeships  while former Barclays CEO Antony Jenkins was recently named as the new chair of the Institute of Apprenticeships.


Apprenticeships could supplant degrees

Meanwhile, former Conservative education secretary Kenneth Baker has supported the claim that apprentices may usurp university degree courses as the route of choice for young people. Speaking ahead of A-level results day, Lord Baker said: “Apprentices at the age of 16 and 18 will outstrip the number of people going into Russell Group universities and we’ll see more teenagers seeing higher-level apprenticeships at the age of 18.

“Russell Group universities will also have some research apprenticeship degrees.”

He said: “The digital revolution – unlike the other revolutions that have changed technology – will destroy more jobs than it creates. In the past, technical revolutions have never done that.

“When we had the industrial revolution and we had the car revolution and the computer revolution all of these created more jobs than they threatened.

“I made speeches in the early Thatcher years, don’t worry about technology, it will create more jobs. I have now come to the conclusion this revolution will not create new jobs. It’s because it affects all industries and not just one industry.”

He added: “The middle rank executives will be hollowed out and those who left universities with a humanities degree, joined a medium size to big company and expected to be there probably for most of their lives or go to another one like it.”