A report by Barclays Bank and the Centre for Economics and Business Research has revealed that the average lifetime earnings potential of higher level apprentices is closing in on that of university graduates.

Apprenticeships in the UK have traditionally been a route for young people into manual technician level occupations, which are generally lower paid than positions requiring university degrees for entry. Recent years have seen a wider range of apprenticeships becoming available and also increasing provision at higher education level. The business, administration and law sector accounted for 29% of apprenticeship starts in 2014/15 and the proportion of adult apprentices is also growing.

The average gap between the lifetime earnings potential of university graduates and level 4 apprentices (EQF level 5) is 1.8% which makes the lifetime earning premium (LEP) just GBP 2 200 (around EUR 2600). The LEP is the additional earnings potential of graduates and level 4 apprentices over a lifetime, in comparison to employees whose highest qualification is the academic upper secondary A-levels. The LEP is higher for apprentices than university graduates particularly in arts, media and publishing and in agriculture, horticulture and animal care, but also, to a lesser extent, in social sciences and languages, literature and culture. The increase in university tuition fees, contrasted with apprentices being paid during their training, also contributes to closing the LEP gap and may encourage more people to start an apprenticeship in the coming years.

Source of image, statistics, and further reading: 
Productivity and Lifetime Earnings of Apprentices and Graduates - A report by Barclays and CEBR


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