What is the average apprentice and school leaver salary?

Jan 16, 2023 | Apprentices & school leaver, Research

In light of the forthcoming Delivering Apprenticeships Conference 2023, we take a look at our data on school leaver and apprentice salaries.

Each year more ISE members add school and college leavers to their early talent strategy and vacancies are increasing.

Most respondents to our Student Recruitment Survey 2022 are now recruiting school and college leavers as apprentices or onto other non-graduate programmes alongside graduates.

While graduate vacancies dipped during the pandemic, apprenticeships continued to rise. Our forecasts predict a small increase (0.01%) in the number of graduates to be hired this year, but continued growth (+28%) for school and college leavers. 

Amid a recession, labour shortage and cost of living crisis, this is an interesting time to look at salaries and other incentives offered to people leaving school and college.

Apprentice and school leaver salaries by sector

Our latest data shows that the average salary for a school and college leaver is £19,520. This has gradually increased since ISE started collecting the data in 2015 (£15,000).

Salaries differ by sector. Those working for a charity or in the public sector are among the lowest earners while school leavers going into law, financial and professional services can expect to take home some of the highest wages.

Average salaries for school and college leavers by sector:

Charity and public sector                           £16,057

Digital and IT                                                £17,530

Health and pharmaceuticals                     £17,600

Retail and FMCG                                          £17,633

Energy, engineering and industry             £18,156

Built environment                                       £18,667

Legal                                                              £21,118

Financial and professional services          £21,394

Apprentice and school leaver salaries by region

Salaries also vary significantly by region. Jobs in and around London and the South East are often the highest paid. Meanwhile school and college leavers working in Northern Ireland and Wales are among the lowest paid in the UK.

Median salaries for school and college leavers by region:

Northern Ireland                           £15,452

Wales                                               £16,434

North East                                       £16,573

Yorkshire and Humberside          £17,102

Scotland                                          £17,257

North West                                     £17,356

East of England                              £17,502

South East                                       £17,708

West Midlands                               £17,787

South West                                     £17,943

East Midlands                                 £17,973

London                                            £20,735


Additional incentives for school and college leavers

Considering the cost-of-living crisis influences labour market dynamics for school and college leavers, we sought to understand how employers were responding.

We asked employers what financial incentives they offered to candidates going on to apprenticeships or other school leaver programms. We asked if these were newly introduced in 2022, or if they had been introduced previously.

Respondents reported the five most common incentives:

  1. Transportation allowance (17% offered this, this was new in 2022 for 1% of employers)
  2. Interest-free or low interest loans (13% offered this, this was new in 2022 for 1% of employers)
  3. Relocation bonus (12% offered this, this was new in 2022 for 1% of employers)
  4. Sign-on bonus (11% offered this, this was new in 2022 for 2% of employers)
  5. Accommodation allowance (11% offered this, this was new in 2022 for 1% of employers)

Other incentives being offered include a cost of living payment, financial help for working from home and a clothing allowance.

ISE’s Delivering Apprenticeships Conference 2023 takes place on Thursday 19 January in London. As well as offering advice and inspiration to help employers develop strategies to boost intake or retention, the event considers diversity and offers case studies.

Read more data and insight on salaries for apprentices and graduates

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