During a speech in a House of Lords debate on the new Enterprise Bill this week, former Education Secretary Lord Baker mentioned the Sutton Trust’s latest report Levels of Success: the Potential of UK Apprenticeships. The Bill is a broad piece of legislation which includes provisions to improve the number of apprentices in England, and Lord Baker took the opportunity during the debate to directly quote the Trust’s report. He said:
“Last week, a report from the Sutton Trust on apprenticeships and their comparison with positions across the world shared a very interesting statistic. Someone who does a high-level apprenticeship—at levels 4 or 5, such as I have been talking about—will, over their working life, be likely to earn £50,000 more than a university undergraduate, apart from, of course, those attending the very best universities. We have to get it across to many young people that an apprenticeship is not a second-class pathway to success. It can, in fact, be infinitely better than a university degree, because the English education system is now cursed by only one target: three A-levels and a university. That has resulted in a very large increase in graduate unemployment at the moment.”
Lord Baker was Education Secretary from 1986-89, where his most well-known achievement was establishing the National Curriculum. Lord Baker is also the founder with the late Ronald Dearing of the Baker Dearing Trust, an educational trust set up to promote the establishment of University Technical Colleges in England.