A Comparison of Earnings Related to Higher Level Vocational/Technical and Academic Education

Pub. Date
02 April, 2019
Pub. Type

We use the earliest cohort of English secondary school leavers with newly available Longitudinal Education Outcomes data (622,000 pupils in 2002/03) to compare earnings of people with higher vocational/technical qualifications to those of degree holders. The unusually rich data allow us to estimate earnings differentials until the age of 30, controlling for a wide array of characteristics and full education trajectories.

Our results show that initially higher earnings observed for people achieving higher vocational education disappear when people are in the mid-twenties. Depending on the type of university attended, male degree holders earn up to 18% more by age 30, while female graduates earn around 40% more. However, there is considerable heterogeneity by gender and subject area. There are high returns related to higher vocational/technical education in STEM subjects, which remain significantly above those of many degree holders by age 30.