Do apprenticeships pay? This is the question asked by the Centre for Vocational Education Research (CVER) in a recent paper.
The research looks at the benefits of apprenticeships for young people aged 16-24 and those over 24, covering questions such as:
- Does taking an apprenticeship make it easier to get a job?
- Do apprentices earn more in the long term?
- Does studying for an apprenticeship widen career options?
The CVER tracked students to establish the short-term and long-term impact of taking an apprenticeship.
Recent government policy has been to make apprenticeships a more important part of the post-16 education system and encourage companies to take on apprentices (see our blog on The Apprenticeship Levy, An Apprenticeship in HR and Leadership and Management Apprenticeships.
About the CVER
An independent research centre funded by the Department for Education (DfE), CVER comprises four partners: the LSE Centre for Economic Performance, University of Sheffield, National Institute of Economic and Social Research, and London Economics.
Research Discussion Paper 015 on the benefits of apprenticeships was written by Chiara Cavaglia, Sandra McNally, Guglielmo Ventura and published in September 2018.
Existing data on apprenticeships
The report first discusses previous studies that overall draw the conclusion that students taking an apprenticeship are likely to benefit from:
- The fact that their skills are matched to the requirements of the organisation they are placed with, making it more likely that the apprenticeship will result in employment
- Earning higher wages over the long term
- Experiencing the work environment under supervision, easing the transition from school to work
- Learning work specific skills and using them in practical ‘real life’ situations
The findings of the study
The CVER’s findings show that:
- After completing their studies, an individual is likely to earn more than if they hadn’t taken the apprenticeship – at least up to the age of 28.
- Apprenticeships particularly benefit those who leave school with low or mid-level qualifications.
- The earnings differential between male and female apprentices is significant. While this can partly be attributed to hours worked and the different sectors men and women are most likely to work in, there remains an earning difference that can’t be explained away.
- Because earnings can vary so much between different sectors and types of apprenticeships, students should be given clearer careers advice so that they are aware of all of the options open to them.
What about the gender gap in pay?
The report discusses the relevance of the sector of vocational education that apprenticeships relate to.
For example, there are more men than women following apprenticeships in sectors such as engineering or construction, which tend to lead to better paid jobs than, for example, social care or child development and health – sectors that are dominated by women.
However, it also finds that in many industries that attract men and women in similar numbers, men gain a higher earnings premium from taking an apprenticeship than women, which can’t be explained away by other factors.
At CMS we believe apprenticeships can transform lives and are proud to champion high-quality provision (see our blog on Satisfaction Levels of CMS Learners, AAT Case Study: Vitae Hardware, Apprenticeship Case Study: Doctors Surgeries.
The CVER report concludes: “Overall, the results in this paper should give cause for optimism that apprenticeships really do generate a positive return in the labour market for young people.”