It’s (a bit) like LEO, but for FE and Skills

You can earn a median £50k+ three years after a level four certificate in site management. But only 20 learners did.

David Kernohan is an Associate Editor of Wonkhe

The data shows salary against highest qualification aim – I’ve plotted the qualification title version, with splits for ethnicity and gender. Salary is shown only for a learner’s highest qualification aim that year (2014-15), and data is omitted for learners who did not achieve that qualification, do not have a record of sustained employment, or do have a record of study in higher education that year.

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So here’s the thing: Gavin Williamson keeps going around saying stuff that the data as published doesn’t back up.

The outcomes speak for themselves. Five years after completion, the average Higher Technical Apprentice earns more than the average graduate… a work-based, technical apprenticeship, lasting around 2 years, gives greater returns than the typical three year bachelor’s degree.

We don’t get five years on salary data, but after three years the median male Level 5+ apprentice earns £33,220. This is impressive, but it is a figure that relates to about 480 people – a little over half of which are on an “apprenticeship management” pathway. For women, the figure is £25,640 (1,630) people and again the courses are management heavy. Remember, all of these learners are now in sustained employment – we filter the others out.

The equivalent figures for HE are lower, but deal with a much larger pool of learners following all kinds of courses that are not routinely taken by people already in management positions. It’s not really comparing like with like.

It is also worth bearing in mind is that graduate LEO includes the earnings of the self-employed (as well as PAYE) in sustained employment, but FE LEO includes PAYE only. On average the self-employed earn less – and/or work less hours – than their PAYE peers, so inclusion would likely bring FE/apprentice figures down (substantially, given the low numbers involved).

I’m continually bewildered as to why we can’t include even an estimate of the impact of part-time work in LEO – something that I’ve raised previously and at length.

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