MP questions worth of degree

Frank Field points to comparison with pay for those working after apprenticeships

January 17, 2014

About a quarter of university graduates are earning less than the average wage paid to non-graduate employees who have completed an apprenticeship, new figures show.

According to a report by the Office for National Statistics commissioned by Frank Field MP, some per cent of graduates were paid less than the hourly gross wage - £11.10 – paid to non-graduates with an apprenticeship.

Some 40 per cent of graduates were also earning £13.45 an hour or less, the report says.

About a quarter – 26 per cent – of those graduates earning less than £13.45 an hour were in part-time work, of whom 41 per cent were working in public administration, health and education.

These graduates were also more likely to work in distribution, restaurants and hotels than those with apprenticeships.

Mr Field claimed the “breakthrough statistics” demonstrated that a university education was not always the best way to achieve their life goals.

“Successive generations of young people have been shoehorned into universities on the promise of improving their lifetime earnings,” said the Labour MP for Birkenhead.

“But, as well as being saddled with eye-watering levels of debt, more than a quarter of them now work in part-time roles earning lower wages than workers with an apprenticeship under their belt,” he added.

He called for the government to set up a working party to look into these “shifting patterns” and consider a “major rethink on the present pattern of university education”.

However, the report also presented much evidence for the persistence of the “graduate premium”.

Graduates were still likely to earn more on average than those with just an apprenticeship, says the report, which excluded those who are self-employed as data for this group was not available.

The average graduate was £15.18 an hour - £4.08 an hour more than those with just an apprenticeship under their belt.

There are about 10.5 million graduates in the UK in work, of whom 1.3 million were self-employed, with an employment rate of 87 per cent, the report says.

That compares to 2 million non-graduates with an apprenticeship employed, with a slightly lower employment rate of 83 per cent, it adds.

The earnings data is also skewed by the gender make-up of each group. Graduates are split almost equally (51 per cent men versus 49 per cent women), whereas 87 per cent of those with an apprenticeship are men and just 13 per cent women, who tend to earn less on average than men.

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Assistant Recruitment - Human Resources Office

University Of Nottingham Ningbo China

Outreach Officer

Gsm London

Professorship in Geomatics

Norwegian University Of Science & Technology -ntnu

Professor of European History

Newcastle University

Head of Department

University Of Chichester
See all jobs

Most Commented

men in office with feet on desk. Vintage

Three-quarters of respondents are dissatisfied with the people running their institutions

students use laptops

Researchers say students who use computers score half a grade lower than those who write notes

Canal houses, Amsterdam, Netherlands

All three of England’s for-profit universities owned in Netherlands

Mitch Blunt illustration (23 March 2017)

Without more conservative perspectives in the academy, lawmakers will increasingly ignore and potentially defund social science, says Musa al-Gharbi

sitting by statue

Institutions told they have a ‘culture of excluding postgraduates’ in wake of damning study