Louisa Withers | 25 May 2021

Pandemic has mixed impact on graduates and apprentices

IDR’s reporting shows the varied impact of the pandemic on pay across the economy and our latest research shows the same is true of the graduate and apprentice labour market, with broadly equal proportions reporting an increase and a decline in trainee headcounts since March 2020.

Graduate and apprentice numbers

According to employers responding to our March 2021 pay in a pandemic survey series, just under a quarter of employers report growth in graduate numbers when compared to the same time a year ago, while a third report a decline. The figures for apprentice are broadly similar, with just less than a third reporting an increase and just over a quarter a decline. 

Impact on pay levels?

Our detailed graduate survey last autumn showed that pay for graduates appeared to be stagnant, with few raising the starting salary under the influence of a subdued labour market for traditional graduates. Our latest pandemic survey asked graduate employers whether they had made an uplift to the graduate starting salary in 2020/2021. Around a fifth of respondents increased the starting salary for new graduates during this time. The sample included 29 mostly medium to large private sector employers.


The picture on apprentice pay differs slightly, with a larger proportion of employers increasing the starting salary for these roles. From our sample of 42 respondents, around a third increased the starting salary in 2020.


Graduate and apprentice research

For further information on pay and conditions for graduates and apprentices, purchase our 2020 Graduate and Apprentice Pay Report.  Alternatively, participate in our 2021 Graduate and Apprentice Pay Survey examining the current pay and labour market for graduates and apprentices and receive a free summary report containing key pay and progression benchmarking information for employers with these roles and discount on the forthcoming 2021 report.


If you have any further questions about the research or the report, please get in touch