Report Shows Many Graduates Earning Less than Apprentices

  • Last updated 23 Jan 2014

Do graduates really earn more? A new report from the Office for National Statistics suggests this may not necessarily be the case…


One reason students give for selecting the university route after school is the belief that a degree will generate a higher salary. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has released data which challenges this conception.

The ONS data compared the number of former university students in work with school leavers who chose the apprenticeship route. 

The results did show that average pay for graduates between April and June last year was actually higher than those in apprenticeships – £15.18 an hour. Furthermore, they were slightly more likely to be in work overall, with 87% of graduates in work in comparison to 83% from apprenticeships or school leaver programmes.
But this isn’t the story for all graduates. Some figures provide food for thought on the issue:

-    26% of graduates with relatively low pay held part-time roles compared to 11% of apprentices.

-    27% of graduates earned less than the average wage of apprentices.

Labour MP for Birkenhead Frank Field, who obtained the ONS data, said: “More than a quarter of them [graduates] now work in part-time roles earning lower wages than workers with an apprenticeship under their belt.”

He added: “We need to encourage more young people to think hard about the best ways of achieving their goals in life.”


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