News Digest #17: New Minister of State for Education, graduate market, social mobility

Nov 16, 2022 | News, Sector & policy

Apprentice advocates put in charge at the Department of Education  

As the latest set of ministers to take up their posts at the Department of Education, we can expect a renewed focus on the apprentice routes and possibly an increase in rhetoric on the value of a degree. 

Robert Halfon is back as Minister of State for Education and has been given the brief of skills, apprenticeships and higher Education – on a recent tweet his two favorite words were quoted as ‘degree’ and ‘apprenticeship’. Robert’s boss, Secretary of State for education Gillian Keegan, is herself a former apprentice. 

If you want a good insight into the politics of student fees and admissions policy read Nick Hilman’s insightful speech to the SA / HMC University Admissions Conference. Nick has worked out that the current annual tuition fee of £9,250 is worth just £6,540 in 2012 money (when current fee structure was introduced. 

Graduate market growth slows whilst apprentice growth still in double digits 

Recruitment for all types of student hires increased by 26% in 2021/2022 but is expected to increase by only 6% in 2022/2023. When broken down the growth rate for graduate hiring is predicted to be 2%, with apprenticeships growth stronger at 18%. Read the latest ISE survey for the detail.  

Graduate hiring still dominates the market (over two thirds of all ISE member hiring) but for the first time since 2016 apprentice starts under the age of 25 and under the age of 19 increased. It is also worth noting though, that more students started university this year than ever before. It’s always worth a look at the actual numbers as well as the percentages because the number of 18-year-olds is increasing at the moment. 

Class impacts graduate pay but not as much as gender 

A report by think tank Department for Opportunities has added a new strand of analysis to aid our understanding of the UK’s social mobility problem. The report found that those from working-class origins effectively work one day in seven for free compared to those form more advantaged backgrounds, a pay gap of £6,718. Females in senior roles are worse off by £9,450 and those of Black Caribbean heritage paid on average £8,770 less.  

And are people still judged by their accents? According to a Sutton Trust report, yes. Just under a third of university students and a quarter of professionals in an education or work situations report mocked, criticised or singled out for their regional accent. 

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