A new report indicates that many young people can be hopeful of achieving success through apprenticeships.
A new report on Levels of Success published by the Sutton Trust shows that Oxbridge graduates are likely to earn an average of £10,000 more a year than non-Russell Group graduates. The report also shows that over a lifetime, the best apprentices will earn on average £50,000 more than many graduates.
Higher apprenticeships can lead to greater lifelong earnings than a degree course and higher apprenticeships at level 5 result in greater lifetime earnings than non-Russell Group degree courses, with someone having completed a level 5 apprenticeship earning on average £1.5m over a lifetime compared with an average of £1.4m for a non-Russell Group graduate, after loan repayments have been taken into account.
This all sounds very positive, and it is; any system of education and training which offers young people a wider choice of routes into employment should be welcomed. However, the one message that comes out of this research is that the UK needs lots more apprenticeships at this level and they need to be made available to a broader cohort of young people if social mobility is to be improved.
At present the demand for apprenticeships outstrips supply. In 2013 / 14 there were a total of 1,811,620 applications for apprenticeships against vacancies that totalled only 166,150 and when it comes to higher apprenticeships – you can see from the chart below that there were over 9,000 applications for just 1,790 vacancies.
The report also shows that research conducted by Oliver Wyman of the Boston Consulting Group found that the most elite apprenticeships (and therefore those likely to result in high earnings) were ‘disproportionately populated by those from wealthier backgrounds’ [i]
The report also outlines that there is still a gender gap to be narrowed when it comes to apprenticeships, with 96% of engineering apprenticeships for example being male-dominated whilst 99% of beauty therapy apprenticeships (which result in lower paid careers) are populated by females.
As long as these higher apprenticeships, which offer the best chance of higher earning potential to young people opting for an apprenticeship over university, remain in such low numbers and so unevenly spread, then it seems that the positive message about the value of apprenticeships will be overshadowed and people will continue to view degrees as the ‘gold standard’.