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    Undergraduates with a specialisation start with the most money

    Technical specialists with an undergraduate degree earn 25% more than the gross average starting wage of 2,195 euro per month. A school-leaver earns on average 2,195 euros gross per month in his very first job. These statistics are reported in an analysis by the hr services company Acerta, based on the starting wages of 40,000 employers in Flanders in 2016. The report specifically concerns employees from the private sector younger than 25, who are employed for less than 1 year.

    The salary is for a full-time job and does not take into account extras such as meal vouchers or other supplementary benefits

    That average represents large differences in the level of education and kind of diploma obtained by the young employees. There is more than a 25% difference between the highest and the lowest starting wages, going from 1,830 euro for those with only a lower secondary education and 2,425 euro for university graduates.

    The starting wages of the lowest-skilled workers are 16 percent below the average, while  university graduates earn 10 percent above that average at the start of their career.

    However, the level of education is not the only parameter that determines the wages of starters, says Dirk Wijns, director of Acerta Consult.

    “The level of the starting wage also depends on the demand in the labor market for specific skills. Especially the need for technical specialists plays a role. A starting worker with a higher secondary or bachelor’s degree with a technical specialisation earns more than 20 percent more than their peers who, with the same level of education, are employed as  office workers.”

    The highest starting wage is not reserved for graduates with a Masters degree. Graduates with a Bachelor’s degree with a technical aptitude can expect to earn an average gross salary of 2,765 euro per month.

    Another finding in the Acerta report: in the social sector, the starting wages for holders of a Bachelor’s degree are higher than those working in for-profit companies. A striking example is the nursing sector.

    Acerta sees a pay gap between genders at the start of the careers. “Young women earn less in their first job than young men, even if they have the same level of education,” says Dirk Wijns. “Women may opt for an education track that is less coveted on the labor market. Or they choose jobs that are less well paid, after their studies.”

    Arthur Rubinstein
    The Brussels Times