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Top apprentices can earn more than graduates

Top apprentices can expect to earn tens of thousands of pounds more during their lifetime than many university graduates, a new report states.

A report published by the Sutton Trust has unveiled that the UK’s best apprentices will go on to earn £50,000 more in their lifetime than someone with an undergraduate degree from a university outside of the Russell Group.

This calculation factors in the cost of going to university, including average student debt levels, compared with the ability of apprentices to earn while learning. The report notes that apprentices that achieve a level 5 qualification - equivalent to a foundation degree - will take home close to £1.5m over their career, beaten only by graduates from universities such as Cambridge and Oxford, who can expect lifetime earnings of almost £1.6m.

Even so, the report demonstrates how opinions of apprenticeships as ‘second-best’ to a university education appear to be ingrained in UK culture. Eighty per cent of the young people surveyed for the report who said they were more likely to go into higher education than start an apprenticeship thought that getting a degree would be better for their career prospects.

This perception extends to teachers and parents too: a previous Sutton Trust poll found that 65 per cent of secondary school teachers would rarely or never advise a student to take an apprenticeship if they had the grades for university, and according to the Commission on Apprenticeships barely a third of parents think that an apprenticeship would be the best option for their children.

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