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Apprentices and Graduates: Pay

Question for Department for Education

UIN 132190, tabled on 1 March 2022

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what comparative assessment he has made of the average salary of a person who has completed (a) an apprenticeship and (b) a university degree; and what steps his Department is taking to ensure parity between those average salaries.

Answered on

8 March 2022

High quality apprenticeships are available at all levels, from GCSE equivalent at level 2 to undergraduate and master’s degree equivalent at levels 6 and 7. Apprenticeships are undertaken by people of all ages, aged 16 and over, from young people taking the first steps in their careers to older workers looking to retrain or upskill.

Apprenticeships are jobs with training, created by employers, designed to support an apprentice to achieve occupational competence in that occupation. Apprentices earn while they learn, do not incur tuition fees, and we know that upon completion apprenticeships offer good wage returns. Some apprenticeships may include a mandatory qualification, such as a degree or a professional accreditation.

Our latest published data, for the tax year 2019/20, shows that five years after study, median annualised earnings for learners who achieved an intermediate (level 2) apprenticeship in the 2013/14 academic year were £20,530. For advanced (level 3) apprenticeships this rose to £21,990, and median annualised earnings five years after study for level 4 higher apprenticeships were £29,180.

Level 5-7 apprenticeships compare well to the earnings of first-degree graduates five years on, although it is important to note that these apprenticeships span the equivalent of a foundation degree (level 5) to a master’s degree (level 7) and that at this time, level 5+ apprenticeships were a much smaller part of the programme. Our latest comparable data, for tax year 2018/19, show that median first degree graduate annual earnings five years after graduation in the 2012/13 academic year were £27,400, compared to £29,030 for level 5+ apprentices.

We caution against direct comparison between post-apprenticeship earnings and post-degree earnings due to the range of levels at which an individual can undertake an apprenticeship.

We are committed to supporting more people to benefit from high quality apprenticeships. We are promoting apprenticeships through our ‘Get the Jump’ and ‘Skills for Life’ campaigns, and we continue to support employers to develop apprenticeships to meet their skills needs and to train apprentices in the ways that work best for them.