Employer Engagement in British Secondary Education: Wage Earning Outcomes Experienced by Young Adults

By By Dr Anthony Mann (Director of Research and Policy, Education and Employers), and Christian Percy (An Independent Academic and Econometrician).


An article by Dr Anthony Mann and economist Christian Percy from the peer-reviewed international Journal of Education and Work exploring the links between the earnings of young adults and the extent of school-mediated employer contacts they were exposed to as teenagers. The article draws on detailed statistical analysis to demonstrate wage premiums linked to employer contacts of up to 18%.

Abstract: Since 2004, the devolved education systems of England, Scotland and Wales have introduced initiatives to increase contact between employers and young people, particularly aged 14-19, as a supplementary, co-curricular activity within mainstream education. The initiatives are motivated partly to increase wage-earning potential but studies to date have not explicitly tested this hypothesis. Robust evaluations from the US suggest a potential wage uplift of 6.5%-25% but these evaluations do not directly comment on the UK approach, as they focus on highly-specialised forms of education with closely integrated employer involvement. A new 2011 survey associates wage returns and school-mediated employer contacts for 169 full-time 19-24 year old workers on annual salaries within the UK environment – and suggests a link of 4.5% between each additional school-mediated employer contact, such that four employer contacts would produce results in line with the US studies. Contrasting the US and UK studies suggests that any causal link from school-mediated employer contact to wage outcomes is likely to be driven more by increased social capital as witnessed in improved access to non-redundant, trustworthy information and social network development than by the development of either technical or ’employability’ skills.

Download Employer engagement in British secondary education: wage earning outcomes experienced by young adults

Read a short review of the research findings by Dr Anthony Mann

Watch the Taskforce seminar where the findings were first presented