Degrees of success for Btec and A-level students

Students who use a Btec qualification to progress to a degree are slightly more likely to gain employment than their counterparts who take A levels, but will be paid less per hour, research has found.

May 11, 2013

The study – commissioned by Pearson, the company that owns Edexcel, which offers the qualifications – looked at data from the Labour Force Survey from between 1996 and 2011.

It found that 89.8 per cent of people who had both Btecs and degrees were in employment, compared with 88.1 per cent of those with A levels and a degree.

When looking at full-time employment, the difference was much greater: 80.4 per cent compared with 73.6 per cent.

However, A-level students had a better chance of gaining an upper-second-class degree or higher than Btec students (54.8 per cent compared with 49.8 per cent). Btec students were slightly more likely to get a first, but were also more frequently awarded a lower-second-class or pass degree.

There was a significant gap in hourly earnings: A-level students on average earned £22.4 per hour, compared with £18.2 for Btec students.

However, these differences “are driven by sector of industrial activity, occupation and especially region of residence”, the report says.

“There is a high concentration of A-level graduates based in London, who can command higher wages through schemes such as London weighting,” it adds.

Btec students take a typically “non-linear” route into a degree, the report says, completing full-time education at a younger age and then getting their degrees after a break.

The report, The outcomes associated with the BTEC route of degree level acquisition, was written by the research firm London Economics.

david.matthews@tsleducation.com

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