Majority think apprentices earn less than those with a degree, new survey finds

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Bernadette Mooney

Senior Account Manager - PLMR Genesis

Over half (60%) of people think apprentices get paid a lower wage than those who have a degree, according to a survey by Savanta on behalf of integrated communications agency PLMR.

The poll of over 2,000 UK adults was published ahead of National Apprenticeship Week (5-11 February 2024) to identify misconceptions about apprenticeships and their value.

Apprenticeships provide the opportunity to work and study at the same time to develop on-the-job training skills whilst working towards a qualification.

The Sutton Trust found higher apprentices (at level 5 or above) have greater lifetime earnings than non-Russell Group university graduates. There is also the added advantage of not needing to pay tuition fees. With the average debt for university leavers now at £44,000, apprenticeships are fast becoming an attractive alternative.

The survey also found that over half of people (57%) think apprenticeships are mainly for school leavers, despite there being no upper age limit. It is an increasingly attractive career option for workers looking for a career change due to the potential to earn and learn at the same time.

Often thought to be just for those wanting to pursue more ‘hands-on’ jobs like hairdressing or construction, apprenticeships are now available in a range of industries, including business and marketing.

Public perceptions around apprenticeships also appear to be changing with over half of those surveyed (57%) saying there is less of a stigma around apprenticeships compared to 10 years ago.

PLMR’s Deputy Group Director of Digital, Lucy Somers, completed her Advanced Apprenticeship in Digital Marketing seven years ago whilst working at PLMR’s head office in London. Now providing strategic digital marketing advice and leading the East of England digital team, Lucy was named the PRCA’s Digital Professional of the Year 2023.

Lucy said “Our survey shows that there is still work to be done to challenge some long-held misconceptions about apprenticeships. In the East of England, for example, over half of those surveyed (55%) think apprenticeships are mainly for school leavers and 45% of people in the East think apprenticeships are only for those interested in ‘hands-on’ type jobs.

“At PLMR, we truly understand the value of apprenticeships and encourage more organisations to tap into this incredible business opportunity to futureproof your workforce.

“I know from my experience how rewarding doing an apprenticeship can be. From a career progression perspective, I think apprenticeships can put you ahead of those who have studied a degree in a similar field. I had the benefit of hands-on experience, liaising directly with clients, learning while I was earning and seeing tangible results from my efforts. I’m now Director of the digital team in the East and Deputy Group Director of Digital for PLMR.”

PLMR’s award-winning education team works with organisations across the UK from early years to higher education. The agency also specialises in energy, healthcare, professional services and the third sector and was ranked by national trade magazine PR Week in 2023 as a Top 50 UK PR agency.

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