A comparison of earnings related to higher technical and academic education

Héctor Espinoza, Stefan Speckesser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Not much is known about higher technical education in England, but current education policy looks positively at it to improve labour productivity and social mobility. We provide updated estimates of individual earnings differentials associated with such education, compared to achieving degrees, for all secondary school leavers in 2003. We find an early advantage of higher technical education, which erode over time. By age 30, most degree holders earn more. However, for men with higher technical education in STEM, earnings remain significantly above those of many degree holders. For women, such differences were not found.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)644-659
Number of pages16
JournalEducation Economics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 9 Feb 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank Sandra McNally, Jeffrey Smith, Bernd Fitzenberger and the anonymous referees for comments and suggestions. Héctor is Supervisory Economist at the Greater London Authority and Research Officer at the London School of Economics (Centre for Economic Performance). Stefan is Associate Dean at the University of Brighton (Business School) and Research Fellow at the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR). Both authors are affiliated with the Centre for Vocational Education Research (CVER), which benefited from funding from the UK Central Government (Department of Education). Financial support covered salaries and institutional overheads (1.0 full-time equivalent [FTE] of Héctor’s and 0.4 FTE of Stefan’s working time). We were further assisted in achieving access to the research data of this study. An Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval within the host organisation was unnecessary due to superseding mechanisms, which needed to be followed to apply for census-level linked administrative data.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Returns to education
  • administrative data
  • high-level technical education
  • tertiary education
  • vocational education


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