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Detailed Analysis - English Language Proficiency in the Labour Market This product is designated as National Statistics

Released: 29 January 2014 Download PDF

Key points

  • On census day 27 March 2011, the majority (91.9 per cent; 41.8 million) of the usual resident population aged 16 and over in England and Wales reported English1 as their main language. The rest of the population who reported a different main language comprised 6.4 per cent (2.9 million) who could speak English ‘Well’ or ‘Very well’, and 1.7 per cent (785,000) who could speak English ‘Not well’ or ‘Not at all’.

  • Usual residents aged 16 and over with a main language other than English1 who could speak English ‘Well’ or ‘Very well’ had the youngest age profile with two thirds (66.8 per cent) aged 16 to 39. This compares with 43.6 per cent for those who could speak English ‘Not well’ or ‘Not at all’ and 37.4 per cent for those with English1 as their main language.

  • A sixth of all usual residents aged 25 to 34 (16.3 per cent) reported a language other than English1 as their main language. This is made up of 13.8 per cent who could speak English ‘Well’ or ‘Very well’ and 2.4 per cent who could speak English ‘Not well’ or ‘Not at all’.

  • Usual residents aged 16 to 64 who could speak English ‘Not well’ or ‘Not at all’ had an employment rate of 48.3 per cent. This compares to an employment rate of 71.9 per cent for those whose main language was English1 and 65.4 per cent for those who could speak English ‘Well’ or ‘Very well’. 

  • The employment rate for females who could speak English ‘Not well’ or ‘Not at all’ was 34.3 per cent, whereas for the males it was almost double at 68.0 per cent. The majority of these females not in employment were economically inactive, around half (50.1 per cent) of whom were ‘Looking after home or family’.

  • Economically inactive usual residents who could speak English ‘Well’ or ‘Very well’ were around four times as likely to be a student (45.1 per cent) to those who could speak English ‘Not well’ or ‘Not at all’ (11.2 per cent). This compares with 27.3 per cent of those with English1 as their main language who were students.

  • Three quarters (76.2 per cent) of usual residents aged 16 to 64 in employment who could speak English ‘Not well’ or ‘Not at all’ worked in ‘elementary’ (38.2 per cent), ‘skilled trades’ (21.1 per cent) or ‘machine operatives’ (16.9 per cent) occupations.

  • Those who could speak English ‘Very well’ or ‘Well’ had the highest proportion of usual residents aged 16 to 64 with ‘Degree level or above’ qualifications (34.5 per cent). This compares to 29.7 per cent of those with English1 as their main language and 7.6 per cent of those who could speak English ‘Not well’ or ‘Not at all’.

  • Those aged 16 to 64 who could speak English ‘Not well’ or ‘Not at all’ were more than three times as likely to report having ‘no qualifications’ (46.2 per cent) than those with English1 as their main language (14.6 per cent). 12.4 per cent of usual residents who could speak English ‘Well’ or ‘Very well’ reported having ‘no qualifications’.

Notes for Key points

1. English or Welsh in Wales.

Introduction

Two questions4 on main language and proficiency in spoken English were included for the first time in the 2011 Census following the content consultation for the England and Wales census form (552.4 Kb Pdf) . The questions gathered information on the main language of UK residents and their ability to speak English if English1 was not their main language. For residents who lived in Wales, the English1 category included those whose main language was Welsh, in order to acknowledge that Welsh and English are both official languages of Wales.

For residents whose main language was not English1 the census offered respondents the choice to classify their ability to speak English as ‘Very well’, ‘Well’, ‘Not well’ or ‘Not at all’. For the purposes of this analysis, residents’ proficiency in spoken English has been collated into three main categories:

  • Main language was English1

  • Main language was not English1: Could speak English ‘Very well’ or ‘Well’ (‘Proficient2’)

  • Main language was not English1: Could speak English ‘Not well’ or ‘Not at all’ (‘Non-proficient3’)

A previous report on English language proficiency published by ONS covered the main spoken languages, general health and a local authority level analysis for school aged residents. The analysis in this report looks at how ability in spoken English relates to the economic activity characteristics, the occupations of those who were in work the week before the census, and the highest level of qualifications achieved.

In England and Wales it is not expected for those aged under 16 to be economically active or to have qualifications in England and Wales. As such, this analysis focuses on usual residents who were aged 16 and over on census day 27 March 2011. The majority (91.9 per cent; 41.8 million) reported English1 as their main language, 6.4 per cent (2.9 million) were ‘Proficient2’ in English, and 1.7 per cent (785,000) were ‘Non-proficient3’.

 

Notes for Introduction

  1. English or Welsh in Wales.

  2. This population covers usual residents who indicated their main language was not English (English or Welsh in Wales) and that they could speak English ‘Very well’ or ‘Well’.

  3. This population covers usual residents who indicated their main language was not English (English or Welsh in Wales) and that they could speak English ‘Not well’ or ‘Not at all’.

  4. Main language and proficiency in spoken English questions as they appeared on the 2011 Census questionnaire (the version sent to those who lived in Wales). The 2011 Census form sent to those who lived in England did not include the ‘or Welsh’ words on question 18:

Age profiles

Those with English1 as their main language represented the majority of the usual resident population across all age groups. In each age group, those ‘Proficient2’ in English represented a higher proportion of the total usual resident population than those ‘Non-proficient3’ in English, except for ages 75 and over.

Table 1: English language proficiency populations as a proportion of the total in each of the age groups aged 16 and over, England and Wales, 2011

Per cent
Age group Main language was English¹ Main language was other than English¹: Total Proficient² Non-proficient³
 16-19                 94.1                  5.9                5.4                  0.5
 20-24                 89.1                10.9                  9.5                  1.4
 25-29                 84.0                16.0                13.6                  2.3
 30-34                 83.4                16.6                14.0                  2.6
 35-39                 87.4                12.6                10.2                  2.4
 40-44                 91.5                  8.5                  6.5                  2.0
 45-49                 93.7                  6.3                  4.6                  1.7
 50-54                 94.0                  6.0                  4.1                  1.8
 55-59                 94.7                  5.3                  3.5                  1.7
 60-64                 96.5                  3.5                  2.4                  1.2
 65-69                 96.8                  3.2                  2.0                  1.2
 70-74                 96.3                  3.7                  2.1                  1.6
 75-79                 96.6                  3.4                  1.7                  1.7
 80-84                 97.2                  2.8                  1.3                  1.5
 85 and over                 97.9                  2.1                  1.0                  1.1

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. English or Welsh in Wales.
  2. This population covers usual residents who indicated their main language was not English (English or Welsh in Wales) and that they could speak English 'Very well' or 'Well'.
  3. This population covers usual residents who indicated their main language was not English (English or Welsh in Wales) and that they could speak English 'Not well' or 'Not at all'.
  4. Data from DC2105EW: Proficiency in English by age and sex.

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In general, the proportion of the whole population with a language other than English1 as their main language increased consecutively across the age groups from 16 to 34 then decreased consecutively from the 30 to 34 age group right to the top group (85 and over). Notably, a sixth of those aged 25 to 34 (16.3 per cent) had a language other than English1 as their main language. The majority of these were ‘Proficient2’ in English (13.8 per cent of all residents aged 25 to 34) and a small minority were ‘Non-proficient3’ (2.4 per cent).

Focusing on the age profiles of each of the English language proficiency categories, those ‘Proficient2’ in English had the youngest population, with two thirds (66.8 per cent) aged 16 to 39, this compares with 43.6 per cent for those who were ‘Non-proficient’ and 37.4 per cent for those with English1 as their main language.

Figure 1: Age profiles of the English language proficiency populations aged 16 and over, England and Wales, 2011

Figure 1: Age profiles of the English language proficiency populations aged 16 and over, England and Wales, 2011
Source: Census - Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. English or Welsh in Wales.
  2. This population covers usual residents who indicated their main language was not English (English or Welsh in Wales) and that they could speak English 'Very well' or 'Well'.
  3. This population covers usual residents who indicated their main language was not English (English or Welsh in Wales) and that they could speak English 'Not well' or 'Not at all'.
  4. Data from DC2105EW: Proficiency in English by age and sex.
  5. The age profiles of each of the English language proficiency categories sum to 100 per cent.

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Sex ratios

A sex ratio describes the number of males per 100 females for any given population. So, a sex ratio of greater than 100 means there are more males than females, and a sex ratio lower than 100 means there are more females than males. For those with English1 as their main language the sex ratio matches that of the overall usual resident population aged 16 and over, at 95, meaning there were slightly more females than males. Those ‘Proficient2’ in English had a comparable sex ratio of 102, meaning there were slightly more males than females. However, the ‘Non-proficient3’ population had a markedly lower ratio sex ratio of 66, meaning there were many more females than males in this population.

Table 2: Sex ratios of the English language proficiency populations aged 16 and over, England and Wales, 2011

  Main language was English¹ Proficient² Non-proficient³
 Per cent males                 48.7                50.4                39.7
 Per cent females                 51.3                49.6                60.3
 Sex ratio                    95                 102                   66

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. English or Welsh in Wales.
  2. This population covers usual residents who indicated their main language was not English (English or Welsh in Wales) and that they could speak English 'Very well' or 'Well'.
  3. This population covers usual residents who indicated their main language was not English (English or Welsh in Wales) and that they could speak English 'Not well' or 'Not at all'.
  4. Data from DC2105EW: Proficiency in English by age and sex.

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Notes for Age profiles

  1. English or Welsh in Wales.

  2. This population covers usual residents who indicated their main language was not English (English or Welsh in Wales) and that they could speak English ‘Very well’ or ‘Well’.

  3. This population covers usual residents who indicated their main language was not English (English or Welsh in Wales) and that they could speak English ‘Not well’ or ‘Not at all’.

Economically active

The data on economic activity describe a person’s main activity in the week before the 2011 Census for those aged 16 and over. Usual residents in England and Wales can be divided into two main categories in terms of economic activity, ‘economically active’ and ‘economically inactive’:

  • ‘Economically active’ covers those who, the week before the census, were in full- or part-time employment, and those not in employment but actively seeking and available for work (unemployed).

  • ‘Economically inactive’ covers those who were not in employment or actively seeking and available for work the week before the census, due to being retired, looking after home or family, long term sick or disabled, students or other reasons.

Employment

The employment rate is an indicator of the proportion of the total population aged from 16 to 64 who are in paid work. There were 25.7 million usual residents aged 16 to 64 who were in employment in England and Wales in 2011. Of these, 23.6 million reported English1 as their main language and 2.1 million reported a language other than English1 as their main language. Of these who reported a main language other than English1, 1.8 million were ‘Proficient2’ in English and 316,000 were ‘Non-proficient3’.

Table 3: Employment rates by sex of the English language proficiency populations aged 16-64, England and Wales, 2011

  All usual residents aged 16-644 Main language was English¹ Proficient² Non-proficient³
 All persons                 71.0                71.9             65.4                48.3
 Males                 75.1                75.5                72.3                68.0
 Females                 66.9                68.3                58.3                34.3

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. English or Welsh in Wales.

  2. This population covers usual residents who indicated their main language was not English (English or Welsh in Wales) and that they could speak English 'Very well' or 'Well'.
  3. This population covers usual residents who indicated their main language was not English (English or Welsh in Wales) and that they could speak English 'Not well' or 'Not at all'.
  4. When looking at the employment rate, only usual residents aged 16 to 64 were considered, for consistency with other ONS labour market releases.

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Usual residents whose main language was English1 had the highest employment rate of the English language proficiency categories, at 71.9 per cent, while those ‘Non-proficient3’ in English had the lowest, at 48.3 per cent. This was largely driven by a low rate of employment among the ‘Non-proficient3’ females (34.3 per cent). For males, those ‘Non-proficient3’ in English had an employment rate of 68.0 per cent, which was comparable to the other English language proficiency categories (72.3 per cent for those ‘Proficient2’ in English and 75.5 per cent for those with English1 as their main language),  whereas the variation among females was markedly greater. For those ‘Proficient2’ in English, the employment rate was lower than that for those with English1 as their main language (65.4 compared to 71.9 per cent respectively). This was also driven by a notably lower rate for the ‘Proficient2’ females (58.3 per cent) than for the ‘Proficient2’ males (72.3 per cent).

Unemployment

The unemployment rate is the number of unemployed residents as a proportion of the total who are economically active aged 16 and over. Usual residents whose main language was English1 had an unemployment rate of 7.2 per cent, which was below that of all usual residents aged 16 and over in England and Wales (7.4 per cent). Those ‘Non-proficient3’ in English had the highest unemployment rate of the English language proficiency categories, at 12.3 per cent, and those ‘Proficient2’ in English had 9.5 per cent unemployment. For those whose main language was English1 the males (8.0 per cent) had a higher rate of unemployment than the females (6.2 per cent). However, for both the ‘Proficient2’ and ‘Non-proficient3’, categories the females had higher rates of unemployment than the males.

Looking at the variation in unemployment by sex, males had a higher unemployment rate than females for those with English1 as their main language. However, for  those ‘Proficient2’ and ‘Non-proficient3’ in English, females had higher unemployment rates. For both males and females, those with English1 as their main language had the lowest unemployment rate of the three English language proficiency categories, and those ‘Non-proficient3’ the highest, with those ‘Proficient2’ in between. However, the variation across the English language proficiency categories was far higher for females than it was for males. Males ranging from 8.0 (main language English1) to 10.2 per cent (‘Non-proficient3 in English’) and females ranging from 6.2 per cent (main language English1)  to 15.1 per cent (‘Non-proficient3 in English).

Table 4: Unemployment rates by sex of the English language proficiency populations aged 16 and over, England and Wales, 2011

Per cent
  All usual residents aged 16 and over4 Main language was English¹ Proficient² Non-proficient³
 All persons                   7.4                  7.2              9.5                12.3
 Males                   8.1                  8.0                  8.9                10.2
 Females                   6.6                  6.2                10.3                15.1

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. English or Welsh in Wales.
  2. This population covers usual residents who indicated their main language was not English (English or Welsh in Wales) and that they could speak English 'Very well' or 'Well'.
  3. This population covers usual residents who indicated their main language was not English (English or Welsh in Wales) and that they could speak English 'Not well' or 'Not at all'.
  4. When looking at the unemployment rate, all usual residents aged 16 and over were considered, for consistency with other ONS labour market releases.

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Notes for Economically active

  1. English or Welsh in Wales.

  2. This population covers usual residents who indicated their main language was not English (English or Welsh in Wales) and that they could speak English ‘Very well’ or ‘Well’.

  3. This population covers usual residents who indicated their main language was not English (English or Welsh in Wales) and that they could speak English ‘Not well’ or ‘Not at all’.

Economically inactive

The economic inactivity rate is the number of economically inactive usual residents as a proportion of the total aged 16 to 64. For those whose main language was English1, 22.4 per cent were economically inactive, compared to 27.7 per cent of those ‘Proficient2’ in English1 and 44.8 per cent of those ‘Non-proficient3’ in English.

Table 5: Economic inactivity rates by sex of the English language proficiency populations aged 16-64, England and Wales, 2011

Per cent
  Main language was English¹ Proficient² Non-proficient³
 All persons                 22.4                27.7              44.8
 Males                 17.7                20.6                24.3
 Females                 27.0                35.0                59.5

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. English or Welsh in Wales.
  2. This population covers usual residents who indicated their main language was not English (English or Welsh in Wales) and that they could speak English 'Very well' or 'Well'.
  3. This population covers usual residents who indicated their main language was not English (English or Welsh in Wales) and that they could speak English 'Not well' or 'Not at all'.

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However, it is clear that the high rate of economic inactivity for those ‘Non-proficient3’ in English was driven mainly by the females,  59.5 per cent of whom were economically inactive the week before the census, compared to only 24.3 per cent of the males. As with the employment and unemployment rates, the variation of economic inactivity rates between English language proficiency categories was lower for the males (17.7 per cent for those with English1 as their main language to 24.3 per cent for those ‘Non-proficient3’ in English), than it was for the females (27.0 per cent for those with English1 as their main language and 59.5 per cent for those ‘Non-proficient3’ in English).

Figure 2: Reasons for economic inactivity of the English language proficiency populations aged 16-64, England and Wales, 2011

Figure 2: Reasons for economic inactivity of the English language proficiency populations aged 16-64, England and Wales, 2011
Source: Census - Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. English or Welsh in Wales.
  2. This population covers usual residents who indicated their main language was not English (English or Welsh in Wales) and that they could speak English 'Very well' or 'Well'.
  3. This population covers usual residents who indicated their main language was not English (English or Welsh in Wales) and that they could speak English 'Not well' or 'Not at all'.

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Economically inactive usual residents who were ‘Proficient2’ in English were markedly more likely to be a student (45.1 per cent) than those with English1 as their main language (27.3 per cent), and around four times as likely as those who were ‘Non-proficient3’ in English (11.2 per cent). This could be due to those ‘Proficient2’ in English having the youngest age profile of the English language proficiency categories, as younger adults are more likely to be students. Notably, 62.5 per cent of economically inactive ‘Proficient2’ males were students, compared to 34.7 per cent of ‘Proficient2’ females.

Notably, those ‘Non-proficient3’ in English had the highest proportion ‘Looking after home or family’ at 41.2 per cent. However, this was driven mainly by the females with half (50.1 per cent) of all those economically inactive looking after home or family, whereas only 10.6 per cent of the males were in this category. Those with English1 as their main language had the highest proportions of the English language proficiency categories who were long-term sick or disabled (20.9 per cent) or retired (23.2 per cent).

Table 6: Reasons for economic inactivity by sex of the English language proficiency populations aged 16-64, England and Wales, 2011

Per cent
  Reasons for economic inactivity Main language was English¹ Proficient² Non-proficient³
 Males   Long-term sick or disabled                  28.1                11.2                30.4
 Looking after home or family                   4.9                  5.4                10.6
 Student                 35.2                62.5                23.7
 Retired                 20.8                  4.8                  8.2
 Other                 11.0                16.0                27.2
 Females   Long-term sick or disabled                  16.3                  5.9                13.9
 Looking after home or family                 29.0                40.8                50.1
 Student                 22.1                34.7                  7.6
 Retired                 24.8                  5.3                  8.6
   Other                   7.8                13.4                19.8

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. English or Welsh in Wales.
  2. This population covers usual residents who indicated their main language was not English (English or Welsh in Wales) and that they could speak English 'Very well' or 'Well'.
  3. This population covers usual residents who indicated their main language was not English (English or Welsh in Wales) and that they could speak English 'Not well' or 'Not at all'.

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Notably higher proportions of those with a language other than English1 as their main language were in the ‘other’ category, for both the ‘Proficient2’ and ‘Non-proficient3’ in English usual residents, compared with those with English1 as their main language. ‘Other’ covers all those who are economically inactive for reasons other than being long-term sick or disabled, looking after home or family, a student or retired. One example of this could be someone who had been made a job offer but had not yet started their employment in the week before census.

 

Notes for Economically inactive

  1. English or Welsh in Wales.

  2. This population covers usual residents who indicated their main language was not English (English or Welsh in Wales) and that they could speak English ‘Very well’ or ‘Well’.

  3. This population covers usual residents who indicated their main language was not English (English or Welsh in Wales) and that they could speak English ‘Not well’ or ‘Not at all’.

Occupation

This section looks at the population aged 16 to 64 in employment, their occupation and their work status (working full-/part-time, employee/self-employed). Three quarters (76.2 per cent) of usual residents aged 16 to 64 in employment who were ‘Non-proficient3’ in English worked in ‘elementary’ (38.2 per cent), ‘skilled trades’ (21.1 per cent) or ‘machine operatives’ (16.9 per cent) occupations. Those ‘Non-proficient3’ in English may find it harder to secure positions in other occupation categories that could generally require a higher level of spoken and written English.

Figure 3: Occupations of the English language proficiency populations aged 16-64, England and Wales, 2011

Figure 3: Occupations of the English language proficiency populations aged 16-64, England and Wales, 2011
Source: Census - Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. English or Welsh in Wales.
  2. This population covers usual residents who indicated their main language was not English (English or Welsh in Wales) and that they could speak English 'Very well' or 'Well'.
  3. This population covers usual residents who indicated their main language was not English (English or Welsh in Wales) and that they could speak English 'Not well' or 'Not at all'.

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For the ‘managerial’, ‘professional’, ‘technical’ and ‘administrative’ occupations, those whose main language was English1 had the highest proportions. For ‘caring and leisure’ those ‘Proficient2’ in English had the highest proportion while in ‘sales’ the proportions of ‘Proficient2’ and main language English1 were very similar. In all occupation categories except ‘elementary’, ‘skilled trades’ and ‘machine operatives’, those ‘Proficient2’ in English had higher proportions than those ‘Non-proficient3’. This may reflect the requirement in the majority of the roles available in these occupation categories of a good level of spoken (and written) English. Those ‘Non-proficient3’ in English may therefore find it harder to enter these types of occupations in England and Wales than those with English1 as their main language due to the language barrier, whereas those ‘Proficient2’ in English may not experience to the same extent such a language barrier when looking for work.

Table 7: Occupations by sex of the English language proficiency populations aged 16-64, England and Wales, 2011

Per cent
  Occupation Main language was English¹ Proficient² Non-proficient³
 Males  Managerial                13.5                10.2                  4.2
Professional                16.6                15.5                  3.3
Technical                14.6                  8.6                  2.5
Administrative                  4.9                  3.9                  1.5
Skilled trades                19.4                15.6                31.0
Caring and leisure                  3.1                  4.5                  2.5
Sales                  5.6                  7.5                  4.8
Machine operatives                11.5                15.3                20.3
Elementary                10.7                19.0                29.9
 Females  Managerial                  8.2                  6.5                  3.7
Professional                18.9                19.2                  3.7
Technical                11.7                  9.5                  2.4
Administrative                19.5                11.5                  4.1
Skilled trades                  2.5                  3.0                  7.0
Caring and leisure                16.4                16.7                10.8
Sales                11.7                  9.9                  6.1
Machine operatives                  1.6                  4.1                12.2
  Elementary                  9.5                19.6                50.0

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. English or Welsh in Wales.
  2. This population covers usual residents who indicated their main language was not English (English or Welsh in Wales) and that they could speak English 'Very well' or 'Well'.
  3. This population covers usual residents who indicated their main language was not English (English or Welsh in Wales) and that they could speak English 'Not well' or 'Not at all'.

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The table above highlights the distribution of occupation type by English language proficiency category by sex. Notably, half (50.0 per cent) of females in employment who were ‘Non-proficient3’ worked in ‘elementary’ occupations, compared with a fifth (19.6 per cent) of those ‘Proficient2’ and a tenth (9.5 per cent) of those with English1 as their main language. Furthermore, a fifth (19.5 per cent) of females in employment with English1 as their main language worked in ‘administrative’ occupations, compared to 11.5 per for those ‘Proficient2’ and 4.1 per cent for those ‘Non-proficient3’ in English.

Almost a third of males (31.0 per cent) who were ‘Non-proficient3’ in English worked in ‘skilled trades’ occupations, compared to around half this proportion (15.6 per cent) for those ‘Proficient2’ and 19.4 per cent for those with English1 as their main language. Furthermore, those who worked in ‘elementary’, ‘skilled trades’ and ‘machine operatives’ occupations accounted for 4 out of 5 (81.2 per cent) of males who were ‘Non-proficient3’, compared to half (49.9 per cent) of males ‘Proficient2’ in English and 41.6 per cent of males with English1 as their main language.

Occupation by employment status

The employee and self-employed distributions of those in employment were broadly similar across the three English language proficiency categories. For those whose main language was English1, 85.6 per cent of those in employment the week before census were employees and 14.4 per cent reported to be self-employed. Those ‘Proficient2’ in English had a very similar distribution of employee to self-employed people at 82.9 per cent to 17.1 per cent respectively. Those ‘Non-proficient3’ in English had a slightly higher proportion of self-employed, with 79.9 per cent working as employees and 20.1 per cent being self-employed.

Figure 4: 'Employee' and 'Self-employed' proportions of the English language proficiency populations aged 16-64, England and Wales, 2011

Figure 4: 'Employee' and 'Self-employed' proportions of the English language proficiency populations aged 16-64, England and Wales, 2011
Source: Census - Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. English or Welsh in Wales.
  2. This population covers usual residents who indicated their main language was not English (English or Welsh in Wales) and that they could speak English 'Very well' or 'Well'.
  3. This population covers usual residents who indicated their main language was not English (English or Welsh in Wales) and that they could speak English 'Not well' or 'Not at all'.

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Looking at all usual residents aged 16 to 64, ‘Skilled trades’ was the occupation that was most likely to have self-employed residents (36.5 per cent). This could partly explain the findings that those ‘Non-proficient3’ in English were the most likely to be self-employed as they had the highest proportion of the English language proficiency categories in this occupation.

Figure 5: 'Employee' and 'Self-employed' proportions by occupation aged 16-64, England and Wales, 2011

Figure 5: 'Employee' and 'Self-employed' proportions by occupation aged 16-64, England and Wales, 2011
Source: Census - Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. Data from DC6603EW:Occupation by economic activity by age.

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For those in employment in the week before the census whose main language was English1, 72.0 per cent (17.0 million) were in full-time employment and 28.0 per cent (6.6 million) worked part-time. Those ‘Proficient2’ in English had a very similar distribution of full- and part-time usual residents in employment, at 70.2 per cent and 29.8 per cent respectively. Those ‘Non-proficient3’ in English had a slightly higher proportion of part-time workers, with 64.8 per cent working full-time and 35.2 per cent working part-time. This could be in part due to the high proportions of those ‘Non-proficient3’ working in ‘elementary’ occupations, as 47.0 per cent of all usual residents aged 16 to 64 who were in elementary occupations in 2011 worked part-time.

Figure 6: 'Full-time' and 'Part-time' proportions of the English language proficiency populations aged 16-64, England and Wales, 2011

Figure 6: 'Full-time' and 'Part-time' proportions of the English language proficiency populations aged 16-64, England and Wales, 2011
Source: Census - Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. English or Welsh in Wales.
  2. This population covers usual residents who indicated their main language was not English (English or Welsh in Wales) and that they could speak English 'Very well' or 'Well'.
  3. This population covers usual residents who indicated their main language was not English (English or Welsh in Wales) and that they could speak English 'Not well' or 'Not at all'.

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Notes for Occupation

  1. English or Welsh in Wales.

  2. This population covers usual residents who indicated their main language was not English (English or Welsh in Wales) and that they could speak English ‘Very well’ or ‘Well’.

  3. This population covers usual residents who indicated their main language was not English (English or Welsh in Wales) and that they could speak English ‘Not well’ or ‘Not at all’.
  4. The occupation categories were classified for the 2011 Census according to the 2010 Standard Occupations Classification (SOC 2010). For more information please visit the ONS Standard Occupational Classification (SOC 2010) Hierarchy webpage on the ONS website. The first level of the 2010 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC 2010) partitions all occupations into nine main categories:

    a. ‘Managerial’: SOC 2010, ‘managers, directors and senior officials’. Most occupations in this major group will require a significant amount of knowledge and experience of the production processes, administrative procedures or service requirements associated with the efficient functioning of organisations and businesses.
    b. ‘Professional’: SOC 2010, ‘professional occupations’. Most occupations in this major group will require a degree or equivalent qualification, with some occupations requiring postgraduate qualifications and/or a formal period of experience-related training.
    c. ‘Technical’: SOC 2010, ‘associate professional and technical occupations’. Most occupations in this major group will have an associated high-level vocational qualification, often involving a substantial period of full-time training or further study. Some additional task-related training is usually provided through a formal period of induction.
    d. ‘Administrative’: SOC 2010, ‘administrative and secretarial occupations’. Most job holders in this major group will require a good standard of general education. Certain occupations will require further additional vocational training or professional occupations to a well-defined standard.
    e. ‘Skilled trades’: SOC 2010, ‘skilled trades occupations’. Most occupations in this major group have a level of skill commensurate with a substantial period of training, often provided by means of a work-based training programme.
    f. ‘Caring and leisure’: SOC 2010, ‘caring, leisure and other service occupations’. Most occupations in this major group require a good standard of general education and vocational training. To ensure high levels of integrity, some occupations require professional qualifications or registration with professional bodies or relevant background checks.
    g. ‘Sales’: SOC 2010, ‘sales and customer service occupations’. Most occupations in this major group require a general education and skills in interpersonal communication. Some occupations will require a degree of specific knowledge regarding the product or service being sold, but are included in this major group because the primary task involves selling.
    h. ‘Machine operatives’: SOC 2010, ‘process, plant and machine operatives’. Most occupations in this major group do not specify that a particular standard of education should have been achieved but will usually have a period of formal experience-related training. Some occupations require licences issued by statutory or professional bodies.
    i. ‘Elementary’: SOC 2010, ‘elementary occupations’. Most occupations in this major group do not require formal educational qualifications but will usually have an associated short period of formal experience-related training.

Qualifications

This section considers the highest level of qualifications for the English language proficiency categories4. Considering all usual residents aged 16 and over, as age increases the proportion of people with ‘no qualifications’ increases. Of the three English language proficiency categories, those ‘Non-proficient3’ in English had the highest proportions reporting ‘no qualifications’ across all age categories. This could partly explain the finding in the previous section of this analysis that the most common occupations for those ‘Non-proficient3’ in English were occupations that generally may not require formal qualifications, such as ‘elementary’ and ‘machine operative’ occupations.

Figure 7: 'No qualifications' proportions of the English language proficiency populations by age groups, England and Wales, 2011

Figure 7: 'No qualifications' proportions of the English language proficiency populations by age groups, England and Wales, 2011
Source: Census - Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. English or Welsh in Wales.
  2. This population covers usual residents who indicated their main language was not English (English or Welsh in Wales) and that they could speak English 'Very well' or 'Well'.
  3. This population covers usual residents who indicated their main language was not English (English or Welsh in Wales) and that they could speak English 'Not well' or 'Not at all'.

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The ‘Proficient2’ in English population had similar proportions reporting having ‘no qualifications’ to those who reported English1 as their main language for the age groups of 16 to 64. However, for the population aged 65 and over, those who were ‘Proficient2’ in English had a markedly lower proportion of people reporting to have ’no qualifications’ than those with English1 as their main language.

For those with English1 as their main language, it may be pertinent to note that compulsory education up to and including the age of 16 was introduced at the beginning of the academic year (September) in 1972. This would mean that, for those who were living in the UK, this policy would not have affected those aged 56 and above at the time of the census, but would have affected the majority aged 55 and under. This could explain the markedly higher proportions of those with ‘no qualifications’ with English1 as their main language for the age groups of 50 to 64 (some of whom would have been affected by this policy introduction) and 65 and over (none of whom would have been affected by this policy introduction), compared to those aged from 16 to 49.

Focusing on usual residents aged 16 to 64, those ‘Proficient2’ in English were the least likely of the English language proficiency categories to report having ‘no qualifications’, at 12.4 per cent. This could be due to the high proportion of students in this population, as qualifications are often required for entry onto student programmes. The ‘Non-proficient3’ population was more than three times as likely to report ‘no qualifications’, with almost half (46.2 per cent) in this category, compared with 14.6 per cent of those with English1 as their main language.

Table 8: 'No qualifications' proportions by sex of the English language proficiency populations aged 16-64, England and Wales, 2011

Per cent
  Main language was English¹ Proficient² Non-proficient³
 All people                 14.6                12.4                46.2
 Males                 14.6                13.0                39.4
 Females                 14.5                11.8                51.1

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. English or Welsh in Wales.
  2. This population covers usual residents who indicated their main language was not English (English or Welsh in Wales) and that they could speak English 'Very well' or 'Well'.
  3. This population covers usual residents who indicated their main language was not English (English or Welsh in Wales) and that they could speak English 'Not well' or 'Not at all'.

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Notably, there was very little difference in the prevalence of ‘no qualifications’ between the sexes for those with English1 as their main language (14.6 per cent for males and 14.5 per cent for females). However, the sex differences were larger for those ‘Proficient2 in English (13.0 per cent ‘no qualifications’ for males and 11.8 per cent for females), and greatest for those ‘Non-proficient3’ in English (39.4 per cent for males and 51.1 per cent for females).

Figure 8: Highest level of qualification of the English language proficiency populations aged 16-64, England and Wales, 2011

Figure 8: Highest level of qualification of the English language proficiency populations aged 16-64, England and Wales, 2011
Source: Census - Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. English or Welsh in Wales.
  2. This population covers usual residents who indicated their main language was not English (English or Welsh in Wales) and that they could speak English 'Very well' or 'Well'.
  3. This population covers usual residents who indicated their main language was not English (English or Welsh in Wales) and that they could speak English 'Not well' or 'Not at all'.

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Focusing on the qualification categories other than ‘no qualifications’, those ‘Proficient2’ in English had the highest proportion of their population of the three English language proficiency categories holding ‘Degree level or above’ qualifications. The high proportion of students among those ‘Proficient2’ in English (45.1 per cent of those economically inactive), could indicate that people in this English language proficiency category are more likely to stay in education for longer, and therefore are more likely to attain ‘degree level or above’ qualifications.

To caveat the qualifications findings for categories excluding ‘no qualifications’, there were notably high proportions of the ‘Proficient2’ and ‘Non-proficient3’ populations in the ‘other qualifications’ category. It is likely that many of these had qualifications gained abroad and therefore ticked ‘foreign qualifications’ because they did not know or could not specify their UK equivalent. If a UK equivalent was not specified on the census form, residents were categorised as ‘other qualifications’. Furthermore, those with a main language other than English1 may have been more unsure of which UK category their qualifications fell into, even if they had gained qualifications in the UK.

Notes for Qualifications

  1. English or Welsh in Wales.

  2. This population covers usual residents who indicated their main language was not English (English or Welsh in Wales) and that they could speak English ‘Very well’ or ‘Well’.

  3. This population covers usual residents who indicated their main language was not English (English or Welsh in Wales) and that they could speak English ‘Not well’ or ‘Not at all’.

  4. In the first quarter of 2014,ONS plans to publish a separate piece of analysis focusing on qualifications, using data from the 2011 Census. This analysis will include a comparison of qualifications rates with the Labour Force Survey (LFS)/ Annual Population Survey (APS). The Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) publish official qualification level estimates for England and the Welsh Government publish official qualification level estimates for Wales.

  5. There were 13 response options for the qualifications question on the 2011 Census form (including ‘no qualifications’ and ‘foreign qualifications’; see below). For respondents who selected ‘foreign qualifications’ and then specified their ‘UK equivalent’, priority was given to the highest ‘UK equivalent’ for the purposes of the census ‘Highest level of qualification’ tables. However, respondents who selected ‘foreign qualifications’ and did not specify a ‘UK equivalent’ were assigned to the ‘other qualifications’ category.

    a. ‘No qualifications’: No academic or professional qualifications (England & Wales & Northern Ireland).
    b. ‘1-4 GCSEs or equivalent’ (Level 1 qualifications): 1-4 O Levels/CSE/GCSEs (any grades), Entry Level, Foundation Diploma, NVQ level 1, Foundation GNVQ, Basic/Essential Skills (England, Wales and Northern Ireland).
    c. ‘5+ GCSEs or equivalent’ (Level 2 qualifications): 5+ O Level (Passes)/CSEs (Grade 1)/GCSEs (Grades A*-C), School Certificate, 1 A Level/ 2-3 AS Levels/VCEs, Intermediate/Higher Diploma, Welsh Baccalaureate Intermediate Diploma, NVQ level 2, Intermediate GNVQ, City and Guilds Craft, BTEC First/General Diploma, RSA Diploma (England, Wales and Northern Ireland).
    d. ‘Apprenticeship’: Apprenticeship (England & Wales & Northern Ireland).
    e. ‘2+ A-levels or equivalent’ (Level 3 qualifications): 2+ A Levels/VCEs, 4+ AS Levels, Higher School Certificate, Progression/Advanced Diploma, Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Diploma, NVQ Level 3; Advanced GNVQ, City and Guilds Advanced Craft, ONC, OND, BTEC National, RSA Advanced Diploma  (England, Wales and Northern Ireland).
    f. ‘Degree level or above’ (Level 4 qualifications and above): Degree (for example BA, BSc), Higher Degree (for example MA, PhD, PGCE), NVQ Level 4-5, HNC, HND, RSA Higher Diploma, BTEC Higher level, Foundation degree (NI), Professional qualifications (for example teaching, nursing, accountancy) (England, Wales and Northern Ireland).
    g. ‘Other qualifications’: Vocational/Work-related Qualifications, Foreign Qualifications/ Qualifications gained outside the UK (NI) (Not stated/ level unknown) (England & Wales & Northern Ireland).

Background notes

  1. Census data tables DC2105EW: Proficiency in English by age and sex, and DC6603EW: Occupation by economic activity by age, were used in this analysis, which are available on the 2011 Census NOMIS website. Also used are the data tables Proficiency in English by occupation by sex by age, Proficiency in English by highest level of qualification by sex by age and Proficiency in English by economic activity by sex by age, which are available in the ‘Reference tables’ section of this release.

  2. The term ‘Proficient’ covers usual residents who indicated their main language was not English (English or Welsh in Wales) and that they could speak English ‘Very well’ or ‘Well’. This is grouped as ‘Main language is not English: Can speak English very well or well’ within published tables.

  3. The term ‘Non-proficient’ covers usual residents who indicated their main language was not English (English or Welsh in Wales) and that they could speak English ‘Very well’ or ‘Well’. This is grouped as ‘Main language is not English: Cannot speak English or cannot speak English well’ within published tables.

  4. In December 2012, ONS released a statistical bulletin detailing several economic activity and inactivity characteristics of the population based on the initial set of census data which used the age band of 16 to 74, and separated out students in full-time education from the economically active categories, to remain consistent with the 2001 Census. However, in line with the Labour market analysis release in November 2013, this report looks at those aged 16 and over for comparisons such as unemployment and those aged 16 to 64 for comparisons such as employment and inactivity rates, and includes students in full-time education in the economically active categories where applicable. This approach is taken for consistency with other ONS publications on the labour market.

  5. All key terms used in this publication are explained in the 2011 Census glossary. Information on the 2011 Census geography products for England and Wales is also available.

  6. A person's place of usual residence is in most cases the address at which they stay the majority of the time. For many people this will be their permanent or family home. If a member of the services did not have a permanent or family address at which they were usually resident, they were recorded as usually resident at their base address.

  7. ONS is responsible for carrying out the census in England and Wales. Simultaneous but separate censuses took place in Scotland and Northern Ireland. These were run by the National Records of Scotland (NRS) and the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) respectively.

  8. ONS has ensured that the data collected meet users' needs via an extensive 2011 Census outputs consultation process in order to ensure that the 2011 Census outputs are of increased use in the planning of housing, education, health and transport services in future years.

  9. The ONS developed the coverage assessment and adjustment methodology to address the problem of undercounting. The coverage assessment and adjustment methodology involved the use of standard statistical techniques, similar to those used by many other countries, for measuring the level of undercount in the census and providing an assessment of characteristics of individuals and households. ONS adjusted the 2011 Census counts to include estimates of people and households not counted.

  10. All census population estimates were extensively quality assured using other national and local sources of information for comparison and review by a series of quality assurance panels. An extensive range of quality assurance, evaluation and methodology papers were published alongside the first release in July 2012, including a Quality and Methodology Information (QMI) document (157.6 Kb Pdf) .

  11. The 2011 Census achieved its overall target response rate of 94 per cent of the usually resident population of England and Wales, and over 80 per cent in all local and unitary authorities. The population estimate for England and Wales of 56.1 million is estimated with 95 per cent confidence to be accurate to within +/- 85,000 (0.15 per cent).

  12. Census day was 27 March 2011.

  13. Further information on future releases is available online in the 2011 Census reporting and analysis prospectus.

  14. Pre-release access list: 2011 Census Analysis, English language proficiency in the labour market

  15. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/assessment/code-of-practice/index.html or from the Media Relations Office email: media.relations@ons.gsi.gov.uk

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