UK Graduates Enjoy 41% Pay premium Over School Leavers in Their First Job

Career Climbers / 8th October 2019

People starting their careers with a bachelor’s university degree earn a maximum average of £28,705 in the UK, which is 41% more than the £20,303 paid to those who stop their education at high school, according to new research by Willis Towers Watson.

The consultancy’s 2019 Global Starting Salaries Report, which includes data recorded for countries in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), looked at pay levels offered to recent graduates who had no relevant work experience. The report also found that having a master’s degree in the UK led to a maximum average pay of £30,495, an MBA £32,293, and a doctorate £35,013.

Looking at other countries in Europe, those with a bachelor’s degree earn maximum averages of £64,929 in Switzerland, £43,664 in Germany, £32,574 in France, £25,510 in Italy and £16,230 in Greece.

 

Graduate Starting Salaries (GBP)

Country

Starting Salary

Rank

Switzerland

64929

1

Denmark

43664

2

Norway

40555

3

Germany

43664

4

Austria

37694

5

Finland

34933

6

Belgium

34520

7

Netherlands

33203

8

Sweden

32810

9

France

32574

10

Slovenia

28739

11

United Kingdom

28705

12

Ireland

27500

13

Italy

25510

14

Spain

25079

15

Portugal

18569

16

Czechia

16255

17

Greece

16230

18

Slovakia

15099

19

Hungary

13132

20

Source: Willis Towers Watson Starting Salaries Report (EMEA 2019)

According to Willis Towers Watson, the differences between countries can be attributed to a variety of factors, such as graduate supply in the workforce, average worker age, collective bargaining coverage rates and the relative proportion of skilled roles in the UK labour force, among others, all of which serve to increase wages.

Commenting on the latest Starting Salaries Report, Keith Coull, Director, Global Data Services, Willis Towers Watson, said: “Going to university in the UK is clearly still a good investment for young people, with the increasing earning power of graduates still greatly exceeding the cost.

“From an employer’s perspective, understanding the ‘value’ of a university education goes beyond knowing what to pay people. It also helps to understand how elite graduates see themselves and what their expectations might be. With some employers being challenged by skills shortages and facing greater competition for talent, having robust information and insights at hand can make certain hard decisions a bit easier. In a world of work increasingly susceptible to sudden transformation, whether due to technological, economic or political change, the challenge of getting starting pay right has intensified, and the consequences of getting it wrong, potentially substantial and long-lasting.”

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