Frank Field MP
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Labour MP Frank Field calls for more youngsters to enter apprenticeships


09 July 2017
Daily Express

A LABOUR grandee has called for fewer pupils to go to university and to take up an apprenticeship instead.

MP Frank Field was speaking after figures showed graduate pay is stalling compared to those who leave school and go straight into work.

Mr Field, former chairman of the Commons’ work and pensions committee, found that apprentices’ wages have risen faster than those of graduates and the number of university leavers earning less than apprentices is growing.

On average, however, graduates still earn more.

Mr Field said: “As well as being saddled with eye-watering levels of debt, huge numbers of graduates now earn lower wages than workers with an apprenticeship under their belt.”

His comments come after Labour’s £11.2billion manifesto pledge to scrap tuition fees and restore maintenance grants was branded elitist by a think tank because it discriminates against non-graduates, who earn £9,500 a year less on average.

The Centre for Policy Studies claimed free university education would add 2.8 per cent on the basic rate of income tax, adversely affecting working-class youngsters.

Mr Field’s research looked at Office for National Statistics data which found that the proportion of graduates earning lower gross hourly pay than apprentices was four percentage points higher in 2016 (29 per cent) than in 2005.

The proportion of those with an undergraduate degree earning a lower gross hourly wage than apprentices increased by six percentage points in 2016 from 26 per cent to 32 per cent.

The employment rate among apprentices increased by five percentage points to 86 per cent between 2012 and 2016, compared to one per cent for graduates, to 88 per cent.

Last year, the number of university leavers without a full-time job reached one million for the first time, almost doubling since 2005.

Apprentices’ pay grew at a faster rate than graduate wages between 2004 and 2016, while graduates’ median hourly pay fell in 2016 (from £15.42 to £15.38), at the same time as apprentices’ median hourly pay increased by 3.7 per cent (from £10.63 to £11.02).

Mr Field said: “The ONS data serves as a fresh reminder to would-be students that any old degree is not necessarily the most preferable option.”

He added that helping more young people into apprenticeships “will help post-Brexit Britain avoid skills shortages, as we begin to regain control of our borders”.

Camilla Tominey, Sunday Express


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