MORE than a quarter of graduate employees earn less than workers who have completed an apprenticeship, figures have revealed.

A report says between April and June last year, 27 per cent of graduate employees were paid a gross hourly wage lower than the average £11.10 earned by non-graduates with an apprenticeship.

However, the Office for National Statistics analysis showed the average gross pay for graduates in the period was £15.18 an hour, and they were also slightly more likely to be in work.

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Of the 12 million graduates, 10.5 million were in employment, compared to two million of the 2.5 million non-graduates with apprenticeships.

Analysis of the 40 per cent of lowest paid graduates, those earning £13.45 an hour or less, found 60 per cent were women and 26 per cent were working in part-time roles.

The research was requested by Labour former minister Frank Field, who said: “Successive generations of young people have been shoehorned into universities on the promise of improving their lifetime earnings.

“But, as well as being saddled with eye-watering debt, more than a quarter of them now work in part-time roles earning lower wages than workers with an apprenticeship under the belt.

"The Government must call for a major rethink on the present pattern of university education and set in hand a working party to take the debate on from these crucial breakthrough statistics.”