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Money and Wages: Apprenticeship vs. Degree

29/02/2016 Sophie

After finishing school, you have got two options, right? You can either enter the world of work or continue your studies at university. For many, the prospect of earning a degree is much more appealing than immediate full-time employment, as you can keep educating yourself but eventually earn more money than those who didn’t go to university.

However, there is a third option, which can potentially provide you with a higher salary than that of a university graduate. What’s more, you will still be given the opportunity to keep on learning and receive a decent pay packet at the same time. So, if you have ever dismissed the idea of becoming an apprentice, think again…

The misconception that you’ll be better off with a degree

According to UCAS, the number of university applicants reached a record high last year due to the increasing demand for higher education courses. As a result, this means there will be even more graduates too, all competing for the same jobs in a fierce employment market.

But seeing as there are more graduates than graduate jobs, a lot of university leavers are forced to take lower-paid employment. In many respects, they are still at the bottom of the career ladder, only with thousands of pounds worth of debt shadowing their every move.

This doesn’t mean to say going to university is a waste of time or money, as several graduate jobs are extremely impressive and lucrative. On top of that, the university experience will provide untold long-lasting memories. However, you might be surprised at how the money a university graduate receives is comparable to a qualified apprentice.

How much can you realistically expect to earn?

Did you know that apprentices with the highest qualifications could earn £50,000 more than a university graduate over the course of their lifetime? Also, apprentices who train up to a level five qualification stand to take home on average almost £1.5m during the course of their career, beating the typical person with an undergraduate degree from a non-Russell Group institution.

These figures were complied by the Boston Consulting Group and analysed by think tank the Sutton Trust, which says its findings show how vital it is for the UK to adapt "if apprenticeships are to fulfil their potential as a vehicle for social mobility".

To this end, the government is working to increase the number of apprenticeships by 2020. However, they are still not considered equal to degrees, with 80 per cent of young people saying they believe a university education is better for their long-term career prospects. However, several apprentices beg to differ…

Earning whilst working v running up university debt

Last year, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) found that choosing to do an apprenticeship straight out of school could net you a starting salary of over £30k, an income while you learn, and the opportunity to avoid student debt that tops £44k on average.

Take Carl Locsin for example, who undertook a level 3 NVQ in Business Administration with current employer the City of London Corporation. Now a business analyst, he is a debt-free 23-year-old on a £30k salary.

Carl Locsin is just one of countless apprentices that have realised the benefits of earning whilst working without running up university debt. With up to 25,000 apprenticeship vacancies available online at any one time, what are you waiting for?

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