Thursday’s charts: Not quite, Prime Minister

Press officers and advisers who fret before that task of shaping a well-esteemed public figure out of British Prime Minister David Cameron’s may have congratulated themselves after this tweet. Just in time.

But, as sixth-formers today find out what grades they have been awarded, two reports made their way to the open debate with data that somehow rejects Cameron’s assertion: an apprenticeship and a university degree can both become a great support for the future of young people, yet only one of them presents a proved record in ensuring their personal finances will be better off.

“Studying at university delivers huge benefits to both graduates’ earnings and the wider UK economy,” according to two papers the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills published Thursday.

On one hand, the ‘Impact of University Degrees on the Lifecycle of Earnings’ shows female students who progress to university would expect to boost their lifetime earnings by £250,000. For male students it would be £165,000.

Then, the ‘Relationship Between Graduates and Economic Growth Across Countries’ report estimates that university study contributes significantly to the economy. An increase in the number of graduates accounts for around 20% of the UK’s economic growth between 1982 and 2005, and at least a third of the increase in labour productivity from 1994 to 2005.

Following these papers, the logical conclusion is that the recent push for apprenticeships the Coalition government favours could be costlier in the long run against the meagre savings in higher education spending achieved in the short term.

David Willetts, Universities and Science Minister, described higher education studies as “a great long-term investment.” His would have been a much more accurate tweet than his leader’s.

About the Author

Victor Jimenez
London contributor at thecorner.eu, reporting about the City and the Eurozone economies. He regularly writes for Spanish newspaper group Prensa Ibérica--some of his features include shared work with journalists of The Daily Telegraph and the BBC.

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